Skip to main content

Full text of "The Untamed Balkans"

See other formats


949.6 K88u 



Keep Your Card in This Pocket 

Books will be issued only on presentation of proper 
library cards. 

Unless labeled otherwise, books may be retained 
for two weeks. Borrowers finding books marked, de- 
faced or mutilated are expected to report same at 
library desk; otherwise the last borrower will be held 
responsible for all Imperfections discovered, 

The card holder is responsible for all books drawn 
on this card. 

Penalty for over-due books 2c a day plus cost of 
notices. 

Lost cards and change of residence must be IB- 
ported promptly. 

Public Library 

Kansas City, Mo. 
Keep Your Card in This Pocket 




Browsing K<xm DATE DUE 




THE 
Untamed Balkans 



Yet y "Freedom! yet thy banner , torn, but flying, 
Streams like the thunder storm AGAINST the wind* 
Thy trumpet voice, though broken no*w and dying, 
The loudest still the tempest leaves behind; 
Thy tree hath lost its blossoms, and the rind, 
Chopped by the axe, looks rough and little t worth, 
But the sap lasts, and still the seed f we find 
Soivn deep, even in the bosom of the north; 
So shall a better spring less bitter -fruit bring -forth. 

BYRON, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto IV 



THE V;Q 
Untamed Joalkans 

FREDERIC W. L. KOVACS 



MODERN AGE BOOKS NEW YORK 



Y MODERN AGE BOOKS, INC. 

MODERN AGE BOOKS, INC. 



All right? *ih 'this book are reserved and it may not be reproduced in 

whole or in part without written permission from the holder of these 

rights. For information) address the publishers. 




MAPS AND ENDPAPER DESIGN 
BY KURT WERTH 

(BMG * XJOPWA 18) 

PRINTED IN THE U.S.A. BY H. WOLFF, NEW YORK 



To the soldiers of the great 
underground army in the 
Nazi-occupied countries- 
Germany included-to the 
victors of tomorrow. 



Contents 



Part 1: THE DEBACLE 

1. TWENTY-EIGHT DAYS OF BLITZ HlSTORY 3 

2. BREAK-THROUGH AT THERMOPYLAE 18 



Pan II: THE BALKAN PATTERN 

3 . BOARDING BRIDGE BETWEEN EAST AND WEST 3 1 

4. ALBANIA: The Sons of the Eagle 41 

5. MACEDONIA: Forlorn Land 55 

6. HELLAS: Home of Beauty and Poverty 69 

7 . BULGARIA: Black Sea, Blue Sea, and Red River 9 1 

8. RUMANIA: Boyars and Baksheesh 107 

9. "UNITY OR DEATH": The Story of Yugoslavia 129 

mi 



Part HI: OF STORMS TO COME 

AND SEEDS OF THE FUTURE 

i o. THE SLEEPING GIANT 1 6 1 

11. IN THE WHIRLPOOL OF POWER POLITICS 176 

12. "WITH NORDIC GUILE AND IRON FORCE": 

Hitler's Policy in the Balkans 1 97 

1 3 . UNWRAPPING A RIDDLE: The Soviets and the 

Balkans 209 

14. CONQUERED BUT UNTAMED: The Shape of 

Things to Come 227 

INDEX 242 



PART I 



The Debacle 



CHAPTER I 



TWENTY-EIGHT DAYS OF BLITZ 
HISTORY 

"/ is better to weep nmth the <wise than to sing 'with 
fools; it is better to fight 'with a hero than to kiss a 
coward" 

OLD SERBIAN SAYING 

The March sun, bright but without heat, shines on the 
old Turkish castle of Belgrade, the Kalamegdan. It 
shines on the steel-colored Danube and the white Sava, 
oik the narrow streets and small squares of the Belgrade 
suburb, Gospodavka Mehana. 

There is unusual movement in the streets. People are 
hurrying, all in one direction, gesticulating, shouting, 
laughing angrily and yet with relief. 

The flow of people stops. The street is jammed. Those 
behind try to look over the heads of those in front. Im- 
patiently they cry, "Let us see the chicken," 

Those who are close enough to the poultry shop in 

3 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

front of which the crowd is massing, see a chicken hang- 
ing by its neck from the cross-bar over the door. On its 
breast is a sign inscribed in large letters: 

/ prefer to be dead, hanging here, than in Hitler's soup 
like the Gypsy. 

"The Gypsy" is the nickname of Dragisha Cvetko- 
vitch, head of the Yugoslav Government, just returned 
from Vienna, after signing the pact which has tied Yugo- 
slavia to the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis and given Nazis 
the right to send hospital and supply trains through Yugo- 
slav territory against the Greeks. He has surrendered the 
whole Yugoslav economy to the Eteich. 

There are more such placarded chickens in Belgrade 
on this twenty-sixth of March 1941. The police have 
their hands full removing them and dispersing the gather- 
ing crowds of angry Belgrade citizens and of peasants 
who have flocked into the town, all shouting, "Down 
with the Gypsy!" and booing whenever one of the 
numerous cars with German license plates and small 
swastika flags passes by. 

In the evening the crowds grow larger. They march 
up and down the main streets of Belgrade, singing the 
old Serbian songs of defiance which were sung in the 
times of struggle against the Turks, and later in those 
against the Hapsburgs and Hohenzollerns. 

The window pane of the German Lufthansa offices 
suddenly crashes, shattered by stones. Gendarmes, bayo- 
nets affixed to their rifles, reinforce the police detach- 
ment guarding the German Legation. Here and there 
4 



TWENTY-EIGHT DAYS OF BLITZ HISTORY 

speakers emerge from the growing crowds. Their slogans, 
"The people will not allow this treason!" "Down with 
the pact!" "Down with the Government!" are passion- 
ately cheered. 

Reservists are acclaimed. Officers receive flowers from 
the women. The song of the Komitadjis, Spremite $a, 
spremite Tchetnitse! ("Prepare, prepare, Koinitadji 
fighters! ") , resounds in every street. A demonstration led 
by hundreds of students gathers before the Ministry of 
War. The cry is, "We want the Army to throw put the 
Ministers!" 



COUP AT MIDNIGHT 

In the night, tanks and machine-gun crews on trucks 
suddenly emerge from the Topchider barracks and pro- 
ceed to the center of Belgrade. Air force officers in 
marine-blue uniforms enter the homes of Prime Minister 
Cvetkovitch, Foreign Minister Cincar-Markovitch, and 
other high-ranking officials known for their adherence 
to the Vienna Pact. The guards do not hinder the in- 
truders. Nor do the Ministers protest when the officers 
declare that the Government has ceased to exist and that 
Air Force Commander General Dushan Simovitch is 
forming a new Cabinet. 

At the same time General Simovitch and his friend 
General Boro Mirkovitch eater the royal palace with 
Prince Regent Paul's resignation and young King Peter's 
first manifesto already prepared. Prince Paul, very pale, 

5 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

signs immediately. No doubt, he recalls the story of that 
night in 1903 when King Alexander Obrenovitch and 
Queen Draga were assassinated by patriotic officers. 

By dawn the crowds reassembling in the streets hear 
the news: Prince Regent Paul is out, King Peter is in, 
and Air Force Commander General Simovitch has taken 
over the premiership. Huge masses of people stream to 
the palace. Swastika flags are torn from the buildings of 
the Wiener Bankverein and the German- Yugoslav Cham- 
ber of Commerce. The Swedish Minister, mistaken for 
a Nazi official, is seriously injured. At the British Lega- 
tion champagne is served. 

The Cvetkovitch Government has been driven off. 
Honor has been saved. But when the new Government 
meets under the presidency of General Simovitch, there 
is little doubt about the imminent danger in which the 
country stands. First, there is the threat of a German in- 
vasion with overwhelming force and equipment. One of 
the first acts of the new Government is therefore to in- 
form the German Minister that all open treaties signed 
by previous governments will be honored by it. 

There are serious threats from within too. Maintain- 
ing itself through terror and corruption, the dictatorial 
regime for years has aroused and fed the hatred of the 
national minoritiesCroats, Moslem Bosnians, Mace- 
donians, and Slovenes. It has fostered native fascist 
groups, and has decimated the forces of their anti-fascist 
opponents. The consequences of this policy, the fact 
that members of the new Government have never openly 
6 



TWENTY-EIGHT DAYS OF BLITZ HISTORY 

disapproved it, have even participated in it, weaken the 
nation's powers of resistance in its decisive hour. Looking 
back now, we can see in Yugoslavia at the end of March 
1941 germs of disaster similar to those that had caused 
the fall of France a year before. 

But it is still that exciting day of March 28, 1941. This 
day nobody goes to work. People dance in the public 
squares. Bands blare forth over and over Spremite $a y 
spremite Tchetnitse! 

Where have we witnessed similar scenes? Where have 
we heard like cries and songs in a kindred Slavic tongue? 
Memories revive of the great demonstrations in Prague 
a week before the Munich tragedy. There too a general, 
Chief Army Inspector Syrovy, took over the premier- 
ship only to capitulate one week later. 

But who in the streets of Belgrade and the other towns 
of Serbia, Crna Gora, and occasionally also in Croatia, 
cheering the news of the ousting of the Prince Regent and 
the Cvetkovitch Government, remembers the sad story 
of Czechoslovakian capitulation? Who foresees the pos- 
sibility of a catastrophe which will come with equal 
rapidity? 

BATTLE FOR TIME 

While the special train carrying Prince Regent Paul, 
who had resigned in favor of seventeen-year-old Bang 
Peter, rolled southward, and while other trains packed 
with German and Italian citizens headed northward, the 

7 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

new Government met to struggle with a variety of prob- 
lems, each worthy of all its energy. There were the nego- 
tiations with Rome and Berlin to be conducted. An at- 
tempt had to be made to win time to prepare defenses 
against an invasion which foreign military experts, watch- 
ing the swift deterioration of Yugoslav-German diplo- 
matic relations and the activity of the German army, 
expected in from fifteen to twenty-five days. Diplomatic 
negotiations with the British and the Soviets had to be 
placed on a new footing. The problem of creating a plan 
of defense and effectuating mobilization called "activi- 
zation" in order not to antagonize the Nazis still more- 
had to be solved. Above all, the question of forestalling 
internal dissension and disruption had to be tackled. 

The time was very short. As the days wore on, diplo- 
matic and military experts shortened their estimates of 
the span of time prior to an invasion. On March 3 1, the 
German Minister, von Heeren, was suddenly recalled. 
Heavy concentrations were almost immediately moved 
up to the Yugoslav frontiers in Bulgaria, Rumania, Hun- 
gary, and Southern Austria by the Nazi Army Command. 
The Nazi press and radio unleashed their most violent 
campaign since the days preceding the attack on Czecho- 
slovakia in September 1938. On April 8, Hungary's 
Prime Minister, Count Teleki, committed suicide; the 
reasons were generally sought in his opposition to the 
Nazi demand that Hungary be used as a base for an at- 
tack on Yugoslavia. 

An attempt was made to strengthen Yugoslav morale 
8 



TWENTY-EIGHT DAYS OF BLITZ HISTORY 

and defense capacity by declaring an amnesty and open- 
ing concentration camps and prisons for a number of 
anti-fascist political prisoners. But it came too late and 
was too little. 

Frantic efforts were made to prevent the Axis from 
using Croat and Slovene "irredentisrn" as a weapon of 
disruption. Dr. Matchek, leader of the Croatian Peasant 
Party, was accordingly named Vice-Premier, but it took 
five days of negotiations and bargaining before he agreed 
to take the post. 

Matchek had been Vice-Premier in the overthrown 
Cvetkovitch Government which had signed the pact 
with the Axis. He had been one of the staunchest sup- 
porters of the pact in that government, but he was not 
a fascist. He was a half-hearted liberal fluctuating in his 
sympathies, emotions, and decisions. He was embittered 
by twenty years of Belgrade's arbitrary actions and vio- 
lations of law and promises with respect to the Croatians. 
He feared the competition of Ante Pavelitch and his 
fascist Croatian group who had beeir^lla^orating openly 
with Rome and Berlin, and he was afraid lest in the event 
of armed conflict Croatia, as a direct neighbor of the 
Reich, be overrun first and become a general battle- 
ground. So he hesitated to join the new Government, 
and, when he did, the spirit of appeasement entered with 
him. 

The head of the Government, Air Force Commander 
General Simovitch, was quite well aware of the weakness 
of Yugoslavia's military power. The manpower was ex- 

9 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

cellent but the equipment poor. Above all, army head- 
quarters, disorganized by the preceding governments of 
"collaboration with Greater Germany," had neither car- 
ried forward preparations, nor developed a strategy for 
defense under the new circumstances. 

In the last weeks of 1940, when Italian planes had mis- 
takenly bombed the city of Bitolj, General Neditch, then 
Minister of War and Army Chief, had called for imme- 
diate action. He had insisted that now was the time for 
Yugoslavia to join the Greeks in an attack to drive the 
Italians from Albania. The majority of the Government 
and Prince Regent Paul had opposed General Neditch's 
views. General Simovitch had immediately approached 
Neditch and proposed a coup similar to the one which he 
later undertook on March 27, but Neditch had declined 
and instead resigned as Minister of War. 

His successor, Petchitch, was an old retired officer, en- 
tirely subservient to the pro-Nazi policy of the Prince 
Regent and Prime Minister Cvetkovitch. Petchitch ac- 
cordingly had done nothing to prepare the defense of 
the country against an Axis invasion along a possible last 
defense line in the rugged mountain regions of Southern 
Dalmatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Central Serbia, and 
Macedonia. 

PLAN FOR RESISTANCE 

Despite the heaviest military odds, General Simovitch 
and his hastily reorganized general staff were certain 
10 



TWENTY-EIGHT DAYS OF BLITZ HISTORY 

that they could considerably slow up a German-Italian 
push and so make a decisive stand after the first weeks 
of inevitable retreat. This was the plan of resistance, as 
it was explained to an American correspondent by a high 
Yugoslav officer: 

Yugoslavia has almost 1,500,000 men under arms. They 
are distributed in the six army zones, with the bulk of the 
best troops and equipment concentrated in Central and 
South Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Bosnia. 

"We expect to lose all this," a Montenegrin officer told this 
correspondent, as he stood before the map and swept his 
hand across Slovenia and Croatia. "And that almost immedi- 
ately," he added, slicing a finger across North and Central 
Serbia, including Novi Sad and Belgrade with a flick of his 
finger nail. "This, too, will go in a few weeks," he stressed, 
figuratively pushing Southeastern Serbia and a strip of 
Northeastern Macedonia behind the German lines with the 
back of his hand. "But here" drawing a long line down the 
map across Montenegro, Albania, and a strip of South Cen- 
tral Serbia and Macedonia "here we stand! 

"The Italians? The moment Germany attacks us, we drive 
into Albania from here" he drew his finger from Prizren 
into Northern Albania" and from here" and he dug his 
thumb into Scutari in Albania upon the Montenegrin fron- 
tier. "Unless they surrender, we will drive them into the 
sea, and this will be no Dunkerque." l 

What the Montenegrin officer told the American cor- 
respondent seems to represent the general idea of the 
Yugoslav and Allied plan of resistance for the campaign 

1 Ray Brock in the New York Times, April 6, 1941. 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

in Yugoslavia. The one-thousand-mile Yugoslav border 
with Germany, Hungary, Rumania, and Bulgaria is flat 
or rolling country for the most part. There are but small 
obstacles to stand in the path of motorized divisions. The 
southeast corner, however, where Yugoslavia, Greece, 
and Bulgaria meet, is a rugged forbidding country, ex- 
ceedingly rich in natural defense positions. The Yugo- 
slavs, and likewise the British and Greeks, expected the 
Germans to sweep through the northern two-thirds of 
Yugoslavia, but they reckoned that the Yugoslav Army, 
aided by British reinforcements, could hold the south in 
the mountains. 



PANZER PINCERS STAB IN THE BACK 

The German High Command thwarted these expecta- 
tions by crushing the most difficult part of the Yugoslav 
lines first. It was a bloody irony of fate that the general 
commanding the southernmost Yugoslav Army District 
was General Neditch the man who had wanted to join 
the Greeks in their attack in December 1940 and was 
then dismissed. Because of the assumption that the main 
German thrust would come from the northwest, north, 
and northeast, General Neditch's southern army was de- 
nied reinforcements of artillery and mechanized equip- 
ment. The surprise attack of German panzer divisions 
over the almost impassable mountain ranges into the 
Vardar Valley and Bitolj Gap found General Neditch's 
forces materially and strategically unprepared. 



12 



TWENTY-EIGHT DAYS OF BLITZ HISTORY 

This failure in the south was matched by similar fail- 
ures on the other fronts. The offensive against the Italians 
in Albania was timidly undertaken with pitifully inade- 
quate forces. Scutari was taken only in the reports in 
reality the Italians in Southern Albania had no need to 
fear for their rear. With little effort they stopped the 
Serbian offensive on the second day. 

In Slovenia and Croatia about 35,000 deserters joined 
the invading Nazi and Italian troops. Mutinies broke out 
in a number of Yugoslav garrisons. Croatian soldiers dis- 
armed and arrested Serbian officers and proclaimed 
Croation secession from the Yugoslav State. 

On the third day of the war, April 8, the first clashes 
between Croatian and Serbian troops occurred in Belo- 
var, Croatia, and Split, Dalmatia. In Belovar, a Croatian 
sergeant took command of the 1 8oth Infantry Regiment. 
During the night he had the Serbian officers interned. 
The majority of the Serbian soldiers of the regiment, 
stationed outside the town, attacked the barracks at dawn. 
A fight followed and was decided in favor of the 
Croatians by the rapid arrival of German parachute and 
motorized troops. 

Sk Yugoslav warships were stationed in the port of 
Split. Three of them hoisted the flag of the independent 
Croatian State; thereupon the other three threatened to 
shell the town. This dispute was likewise settled in favor 
of the Croatian mutineers by the timely arrival of Nazi 
Stukas. 

In Zagreb, Lubljana, and other cities, Croat Guards in 

*3 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

the dark olive-drab uniforms of the Ustashi a terrorist 
organization under the leadership of Ante Pavelitch, 
drilled and equipped mostly by Italy made their appear- 
ance immediately after the first vanguard troops of the 
Axis armies. 

In Bosnia the Moslem population turned against the 
Serbs, the poor peasants having been mercilessly cheated 
by a Belgrade Government looking for the favor of the 
rich Begs, 1 and the Begs preferring the more powerful 
Nazis to the less powerful masters of Belgrade. 

In Macedonia large bands of the IMRO, the Internal 
Macedonian Revolutionary Organization, went into ac- 
tion. They cut power, telephone, and telegraph wires, 
and committed other acts of sabotage. A whispering cam- 
paign, generating fear and confusion, completed the dis- 
aster after the initial shock of armored columns, sup- 
ported by bombers and parachutists, had paralyzed Yugo- 
slav centers of resistance. 

Yugoslav army units, misinformed about the situation, 
had no means of getting in touch with one another. They 
heard only that "the Germans are but a few miles away." 
Important strategic positions were evacuated by the mili- 
tary many hours and sometimes a whole day before any 
German columns were near. Difficult passes were left 
undefended; bridges were not blown up. The passes 
where all-important mountain roads could have been 
cut Katchanik, in Central Serbia, and Bobuna in South- 

* "Beg" is the old Turkish name for "squire." 



TWENTY-EIGHT DAYS OF BLITZ HISTORY 

ern Serbiawere left to the enemy without, or with in- 
sufficient, resistance. 

The Nazi invasion began without declaration of war 
or previous notice, on Saturday, April 5. It was not, how- 
ever, unexpected. The Yugoslav Government could have 
made all necessary preparations for an orderly evacuation 
of its main departments, but nothing was prepared. The 
Foreign Office, for instance, fled in complete disorder 
and never re-established itself during the whole cam- 
paign. The General Staff and the Government had no 
connection with each other for six days. The Ministry of 
the Interior left the provincial authorities without in- 
structions. In Zagreb the Governor of Croatia, Dr. Ivan 
Shubachitch, turned the police over to an officer known 
to be in sympathy with Ante Pavelitch, and then left 
the city. Police headquarters immediately hoisted the 
flag of the "Independent Croatian State" and got in touch 
by wireless with Ante Pavelitch, Axis-named chief of 
the new State. 

In the general disorder and headlessness Colonel Bon- 
f atti, Military Attache of the Italian Embassy, and Major 
Fabricius, head of the Nazi organization in Yugoslavia, 
and a relative of Ribbentrop, remained unmolested. 
When the German Panzers rolled into Belgrade, these 
two emerged, together with Neuhausen, the German 
Consul General, 1 who had served as a link between the 

1 Neuhausen was the director of the Belgrade office of the Viennese 
bank Wiener Bankverein and disposed of very considerable funds which 
were used to subsidize different native fascist groups, such as the Blue 
Shirts of former Premier Stoyadinovitch* 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

Yugoslav fascist organizations and the Brown House in 
Munich. They had kept contact with members of the 
overthrown Cvetkovitch Government and drafted the 
capitulation finally signed by Cincar-Markovitch for- 
mer Foreign Minister and one of the Yugoslav delegates 
at the Vienna signing of the Axis Pact and General Yan- 
kovitch, Military Governor of Belgrade. 

Military events rolled up with blitzkrieg speed. On 
April 5, the first bombs fell on Belgrade, and the first 
panzer units crossed the frontiers. On April 6, Belgrade 
was a sea of flames, with six thousand killed and wounded. 
In the south panzer divisions neared Skoplje, strategic 
center in the Vardar Valley. The next day Skoplje fell. 
On the ninth, an armored column approached the Al- 
banian frontier, where the Italians waited for support. 
By April 1 1, Nazis and Italians had met at the Albanian 
frontier, the Axis armies had swept over Slovenia and 
Croatia. Belgrade, Nish, and Kragujevatch, center of the 
Yugoslav armament industry, had been taken, and 
armored columns had sliced off the remainder of Yugo- 
slavia. 



COLLAPSE 

On the seventeenth, twelve days after the beginning of 
the campaign, the German High Command announced 
the cessation of all organized Yugoslav resistance. The 
General Staff of the Yugoslav Army capitulated at Sara- 
16 



TWENTY-EIGHT DAYS OF BLITZ HISTORY 

jevo. The remnants of the Government fled in airplanes 
to Greece and to Palestine. 

In towns not yet occupied by the Axis troops battered 
Yugoslav detachments gathered for the last time and laid 
down their arms to await the arrival of the Germans and 
Italians. Other thousands of soldiers from the disbanded 
Yugoslav Army, however, took their guns, ammunition, 
and equipment and trekked into the mountains. Their 
officers made no effort to stop them. Since then, small 
bands of Komitadjis and lone sharp-shooters have taken 
up guerrilla warfare. Centers of resistance and sabotage 
will continue to operate from the "underground" of 
these mountains, but technically Yugoslavia's war with 
the Axis is over. 



CHAPTER 2 



BREAK-THROUGH AT 
THERMOPYLAE 

"The High Command of the Greek Army in Epirus 
and Macedonia, represented by General Tsalako- 
glou y turns to the Italian High Command of armed 
forces in Albania and the High Command of Ger- 
man forces In Greece > to ask that unconditional sur- 
render of the Greek Army in Efirus and Macedonia 
be accepted. 

"The Italian High Command in Albania, and the 
High Command of German troops in Greece, ac- 
cept this surrender 'without condition. Men of the 
Greek army of Epirus and Macedonia are prisoners 
of 'war. In consideration of the courage shown by 
Greek troops on the battlefield, and the fact that in 
this 'way they saved their military honor > Greek 
officers may keep their sidearms and uniform dis~ 
\ tinctions." 

ARTICLES I AND II OF THE TERMS OF SURRENDER, 
SIGNED AT SALONICA, APRIL 23, 1941 

Simultaneously with the invasion of Yugoslavia the 
German armies based on Bulgaria struck at Greece, 
which since October 28, 1940, had been successfully re- 
18 



BREAK-THROUGH AT THERMOPYLAE 

sisting Italian attacks and had even succeeded in admin- 
istering severe defeats to the legions of Mussolini in 
Albania. 



MUSSOLINI'S PET WAR 



The Italo-Greek War had started with a thrust forward 
of what was called Mussolini's picked "army of fascist 
victory" all along the Albanian frontier. But as early as 
mid-November the Italian offensive directed at Yanina 
first got stuck and then turned into retreat and flight. 
The Greek troops, though under-equipped and out- 
numbered, answered the Italian attack on Yanina with 
a counter-drive from Fiorina to the important Albanian 
base of Koritza. In the steep valleys of the Pindus Moun- 
tains, Greek mountain artillery and Evzones won a bril- 
liant victory, smashing the Duce's Third Alpine Divi- 
sion and capturing hundreds of prisoners and the eagles 
and flags of the proud "Indomitable Blackshirt Brigade." 
By the first days of December, Greek territory had 
been cleansed of the Italian invaders, and the vanguards 
of the Greek armies were carrying the war to Albanian 
soil. 

All the military shortcomings of the economically 
weaker and morally almost exhausted junior Axis partner 
had become evident in this campaign. No Italian "victory 
march" into Epirus after the final collapse of the Greek 
armies before the German panzer divisions, no trium- 
phant war bulletins about the Greek surrender "to the 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

Italian Command in Albania/' could transform the 
shameful defeat of Mussolini's armies in his own "pet 
war" into a victory. And the wounds administered to the 
fascist military power by an outnumbered . and out- 
machined enemy may well prove to be incurable despite 
all the victory parades of today. 

The Greek Army, considered by all military experts 
to be among the most ill-equipped even of the armies of 
the Balkan nations, fought gallantly against the black- 
shirted giant with feet of clay. Knowledge of the low 
morale on the other side, coupled with familiarity with 
the rugged terrain and desperate determination to defend 
their native soil, enabled the Greeks to wage successful 
war throughout the winter of 1940-41. But now, in the 
spring of 1941, the attack of the superlatively equipped 
and organized armored divisions of the strongest indus- 
trial power of Central Europe showed that natural de- 
fenses are of value in modern mechanized warfare only 
when they are manned by defenders who are quantita- 
tively and qualitatively comparable to the attackers. 
Even pill boxes and concrete-steel forts are of minor 
value if the "flying artillery" of the enemy cannot be 
checked by an adequately strong destroyer and bomber 
air fleet. 

At the time of the victorious defense against the Ital- 
ians, the internal weak points in Greek morale had re- 
mained hidden. Even an army fighting not wholeheart- 
edly can win initial victories against an even less 
enthusiastic foe. Czech regiments of the old Austrian- 
20 



BREAK-THROUGH AT THERMOPYLAE 

Hungarian army fought stubbornly, even gallantly and 
gloriously, in defense of a monarchy which had long 
forfeited the loyalty of the Slavic nationalities. But the 
real morale of an army, the real strength of resistance of 
a nation in war, is tested in the hours of retreat and loss. 
Under the crushing blows of the panzer divisions not 
only did the Metaxas Line crack, but also the internal 
structure of the Metaxas State. By starving out the peas- 
ants through ruthless taxation and sabotage of the land 
reforms, by alienating the workers through breaking up 
the labor unions and workers' organizations, by suppress- 
ing all progressive elements and anti-fascist groups, the 
regime of Metaxas-Koritzis-George II had undermined 
the roots of national defense against fascist aggression 
and paved the way for a Greek Quisling General 
Tsalakoglou. 

THERMOPYLAE 

In the first days of the spring campaign the Greeks, 
aidecf by British troops brought over from Libya, put up 
a heroic resistance in the Struma Valley fortifications 
covering the way to Salonica. But Stuka bombers and 
heavy tanks smashed the defenses, and on April 7 Ger- 
man armored cars reached the Greco-Turkish border. 
On the following day Nazi columns approached Salonica, 
which they entered on the ninth. 

The collapse of the Southern Yugoslav army exposed 
the left flank of the Anglo-Greek forces, severed all com- 

21 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

munications between the Yugoslavs and their allies, and 
forced the hard-fighting Greek and New Zealand de- 
tachments to withdraw along the whole northwestern 
front. The Nazis drove through the Bitolj Gap into 
Greek Macedonia, in the rear of the armies in Albania 
and Thessaly. 

British troops made a stand at Mount Olympus. Their 
position, however, became untenable when German 
mechanized columns turned the British line in a pincer 
movement and, thrusting across the Pindus Mountains, 
forced the surrender of the Greek Army of the Epirus. 
Only now did the "lion-hearted" blackshirts of Musso- 
lini dare to move forward. The Nazis meanwhile swept 
down the plains of Thessaly, the old route of the Persian 
hordes of Xerxes. For a few days, Australian and British 
rearguards put up stubborn resistance at historic Ther- 
mopylae, scene of the epic death of King Leonidas and 
his three hundred men in 480 B.C. 

Using all their superiority in tanks, artillery, and planes, 
the Nazis forced their way through the historic pass. The 
break-through at Thermopylae sealed the fate of Athens, 
as it had in 480 B.C. It marked, moreover, the loss of the 
last British toe-hold on the continent, with the exception 
of the Rock of Gibraltar at the other end of the Mediter- 
ranean. 

Under the cover of Australian and New Zealand 
troops, the British Expeditionary Force effected the 
evacuation of the remaining part of the Greek mainland, 
with the loss of 20 percent of its manpower and of its 
22 



BREAK-THROUGH AT THERMOPYLAE 

entire heavy equipment (estimated to be greater than the 
loss of equipment in Flanders after Dunkirk) . The Nazis 
rapidly completed the occupation of Attica and the 
Peloponnesus. A few Greek detachments joined the Brit- 
ish in the evacuation, but the bulk of the Greek armies 
ceased fighting with the capitulation of the armies of 
Epirus and Macedonia. On the twenty-seventh of April, 
just three weeks after the blitzkrieg in the Balkans was 
launched, German motorcycle troops entered Athens. 

DEFEATISM 

The rapidity of the total defeat and dismemberment of 
Yugoslavia did not sink into Greek public awareness until 
the Government of General Simovitch fled to Athens. 
Prince Regent Paul had come to Greece after his forced 
resignation in the last days of March. He had been re- 
ceived as a guest by King George, with whom he had 
in common not only family connections with the British 
ruling house, but also a political predilection for totali- 
tarian regimes and a strong personal resentment against 
free constitutions, popular democratic movements, and 
the Soviets. 

When, on April 13, 1941, Prince Paul was caught 
sending the Croat leader Vladimir Matchek a cable in 
code, presumably a declaration of sympathy for Dr. 
Matchek's negotiations with the German High Com- 
mand, the Prince was asked to leave Greece. King 
George's indignation was great, but only the politically 

23 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

ignorant or the willfully blind could have expected dif- 
ferent behavior from fascist-minded Prince Paul After 
all, not only had King George himself, and his total- 
itarian government, allowed the German Legation to in- 
crease its staff during the six months of the Italo-Greek 
War, they had also not lifted a finger to arrest the nu- 
merous persons known to be in closest contact with open 
and secret Nazi organizations while holding important 
offices in the Metaxas Youth Movement and in the ap- 
paratus of the dictatorial regime. 

The desperate situation became only too evident on 
April 1 6, when King Peter of Yugoslavia and remnants 
of his Government landed in Athens. His last pitiful proc- 
lamation thanking his army, which had already ceased to 
exist, and declaring that his was the only legitimate gov- 
ernment of the Serb, Croat, and Slovenian peoples, was 
not allowed to reach the outer world. Censorship in 
Greece was tightened still more, but the news about the 
situation on the front leaked through with wounded and 
fleeing soldiers. 

By that time the majority of Greece's generals at the 
front were in favor of capitulation. The commanders of 
the various Greek armies and divisions were almost unani- 
mous in the opinion that Greece had already done her 
part in the war. After all, most of the high-ranking officers 
had been promoted by General Metaxas, who up to the 
first months of the war had preserved his admiration for 
Prussian army drill and Nazi dictatorial methods. The 
same viewpoint was voiced in the Government. The sup- 
24 



BREAK-THROUGH AT THERMOPYLAE 

porters of a policy of further resistance proposed the 
immediate departure of the Government for the island 
of Crete. Two destroyers lay off Magara, ready to take 
the King and the Government there. 

Prime Minister Koritzis, however, opposed leaving 
Athens, and no decision was made. A few hours later 
the sudden suicide of Koritzis was announced. The offi- 
cial notice stated that Koritzis had seen no practical al- 
ternative to going to Crete, but at the same time had not 
wished to appear cowardly in the desertion of his people; 
the strain of the decision being too much for him, he had 
ended his life. 

The real story of the death of Koritzis is yet to be told, 
but from the sparse inside information which has leaked 
out, it seems certain that the story of the patriotic 
dilemma of Koritzis belongs to the sphere of legend, and 
that his suicide was either forced upon him or was not 
a suicide at all. His constant refusal to oust the German 
military attache, who during the Italo-Greek War had 
carried on all sorts of "informal travels" and had a radio 
station of his own, indicates that Koritzis had not 
liquidated his connections with the Nazi Minister, Prince 
Erbach. General Tsalakoglou, who signed the surrender 
and became head of the Quisling government of Greece, 
was an old protege of Koritzis, whose suicide if it was 
that occurred after he had vainly tried to get in touch 
with Tsalakoglou. 

The events of the following hours and days are com- 
plex and full of contradictions which only time will 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

clarify. Although all preparations for the Cabinet's de- 
parture were made, the two destroyers did not leave. The 
King postponed the evacuation. 

Was he considering a deal with the Nazis? He first 
took over the Premiership and appointed Kostas Kotzias 
as Vice-Premier. Kotzias was the mayor of Athens and 
an old intimate of the late General Metaxas. He was very 
close to Nazism and openly opposed to the policy which 
had led to the conflict with the Axis. He maintained, for 
example, excellent relations with Prince Erbach, with Dr. 
Thierfelder, head of the Balkan Department of The 
Propaganda Division of the Nazi Party, and with Dr. 
Goebbels. But even after the outbreak of hostilities, he 
was not arrested. 

Kotzias, however, politely declined. He advised the 
King that, since most generals at the front favored sur- 
render, the Government must be a military one and in- 
clude those high-ranking officers who were willing to 
fight. Kotzias has not been heard from since, and it is very 
possible that he may have held himself in reserve for 
some later opportunity in the Nazi-sponsored Tsalako- 
glou Cabinet. 

For forty-eight hours the Cabinet was rejuggled a 
number of times. Finally, the King gave up the Premier- 
ship and appointed Emanuel Tsouderos Prime Minis- 
ter. Tsouderos was apparently chosen on British advice, 
for he was a strong old Venizelist Anglophile and prom- 
ised both continuation of the fighting alliance with Britain 
26 



BREAK-THROUGH AT THERMOPYLAE 

and a conciliation of the Venizelists the followers of the 
Liberal Party of the late Venizelos who had bitterly op- 
posed the return of the King and the establishment of 
the Metaxas dictatorship. 

One of the first actions of the new Prime Minister was 
to grant an amnesty to political prisoners. But the effec- 
tiveness of this gesture was impaired by its very narrow 
scope (it excluded prisoners convicted under the in- 
famous "Law for the Defense of the State" promulgated 
by Metaxas) , and by the fact that its application was put 
into the hands of Constantine Maniakides, a chunky po- 
liceman who for years had persecuted the republican and 
labor movement, exiled their leaders to island prisons, 
and fostered the growth of fascist sponsored organi- 
zations. 

Thus the Greek "Government of National Defense 
and Freedom," like the Yugoslav "Government of Na- 
tional Unity" of Simovitch, did not possess the key for 
unlocking those popular forces which would have enor- 
mously strengthened the resistance against Hitler, and 
which, in alliance with similar forces in overrun and men- 
aced nations, will yet bring about Hitler's overthrow. 



We have briefly retraced the story of the Yugoslav 
and Greek collapse in the fateful weeks between the end 
of March and the end of April 1 94 1 . 

The German conquest of the Balkans has given rise to 
many puzzling questions. 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

How did it come about? What does it mean? What 
will the consequences be? 

To understand the significance of what has happened, 
and to be able to judge the course of future developments, 
it is necessary to go behind the immediate and ostensible 
facts and to examine the political and economic forces 
which have shaped the life of the Balkan nations through- 
out their history. 



28 



PART II 



The Balkan Pattern 



CHAPTER 3 



BOARDING BRIDGE BETWEEN 
EAST AND WEST 

"Who has the shore, has the sea, and the castle is his 
*who holds the plain, but freedom dwells on the 
peaks of the mountain" 

CROATIAN PROVERB 

We were In Sarajevo, the old Bosnian capital that was 
made world-famous in 1914 by the shots fired at 
Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Hapsburg throne 
Sarajevo, which in the spring of 1941 was again to ap- 
pear in headlines all over the world when it became, for 
a few days, the capital of invaded Yugoslavia and the 
scene. of the surrender of the Yugoslav Army after a 
twelve-day Blitz campaign by the Nazis. 

We sat in a little havana, a coffee bar in the old Chershia 
district, which still retains its Oriental character. Xhe 
wild pigeons were wheeling around the minarets of the 
Ghasi Husrefbeg Mosque. From the old bazaar came the 

3* 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

clamor of bargaining crowds, and across the street some 
peasants, having sold their sheep, drank their zilavka, the 
meadow-yellow wine of Herzegovina. 

An old story-teller and singer sat beside us; accompany- 
ing himself on the gusla, he sang for us the folk songs of 
Serbs and Albanians, of Tsintsars and Macedonians, and 
of half a dozen other Balkan peoples and tribes. He was 
a very old man with a patriarchal white beard and had 
lived almost a lifetime under the Osmanli Turks. His 
father had been with the Greek corsairs who fought the 
navy of the Sublime Porte, and this may be why he chose 
his simile from the corsair vocabulary. 

When we marveled over the manif oldness of nationali- 
ties living all together in what is relatively so small a part 
of the Balkans, our old friend said: "Yes, there are many 
peoples because so many armies have passed through the 
Balkans, as over a corsair's boarding bridge from one ship 
to another." 

A corsair's boarding bridge between Europe and Asia 
Minor, between East and West this is what the Balkans 
have been from the earliest days of their known history. 
This southern peninsula of Europe, which is not sharply 
marked off from the mainland like the Spanish or Italian 
peninsulas, seems to have been predestined by its geo- 
graphical situation to play a most important role as the 
link between the continents and the cultures of the East 
and the West a link, but also the theater of never-ending 
bloody clashes and conflicts. Along the high roads from 
Central Europe to the Near East, along the Danube road 
32 



BOARDING BRIDGE BETWEEN EAST AND WEST 

and the Vardar Valley road, it was not only merchants 
and traders who made their way, but also the armies of 
European and Oriental conquerors. Over the Balkan 
boarding bridge, Alexander of Macedonia, the Greeks, 
the Romans, the Crusaders, pushed into Anatolia, Thrace, 
Arabia, India, and Egypt; and from the other side the 
Persians and the Turks drove across the Balkans to invade 
Central Europe. 

ROMANOVS, HAPSBURGS, HOHENZOLLERNS 

"x. 

The Tsars and the Hapsburgs, their eyes fixed on the 
riches of Smyrna and Istanbul, coveted the Balkans. The 
Wilhelmian "Drang nach Osten" with its plans for a 
Berlin-Baghdad railway, had as its first objective the 
Balkans; and for the past hundred years the struggles of 
the great European Powers were mostly initiated by con- 
flicts over the Balkans. 

In spite of the fact that the Balkans constitute a bridge 
between Europe and Asia Minor, they are for the most 
part mountainous countryhard to penetrate. "Balkan," 
the very name of the peninsula, means, in Turkish, 
"mountain." The peninsula is divided into many parallel 
mountain valleys with scarcely any connections among 
them. The roads from the seacoasts to the inner parts of 
the peninsula are few and poor. The mountains have 
acted like combs or like eel baskets in retaining some rem- 
nants from each passing army or nation. Thus, scattered 
among their hidden valleys and barely penetrable can- 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

yons, there are dozens of nationalities, languages, and reli- 
gions from all points of the compass. Rival cultural and 
political tendencies have pushed into the peninsula and 
remained. Latin, German, Greek, Slav, and Turkish 
streams have met each other, battled, and mixed. The 
canvass of nationalities of the Balkans is woven out of 
Southern Slavs (Serbs, Croats, Slovenes), Hellenic and 
Latin peoples (Greeks and Rumanians), Turkish-Mon- 
golian tribes (Albanians and Turks), and many other 
races. There are the Bulgars, Slavs with Mongol blood in 
their veins; there are the Vlachs or Wallachians, a Latin- 
Slav mixture; there are Gypsies and Jews, Ukrainians and 
Hungarians, Germans, Italians, Armenians, and Cauca- 
sian Circassians; there are Pomaks and Macedonians, and 
a few more. 



EARLY HISTORY 

The earliest inhabitants of the Balkan peninsula have 
left us some knowledge of their existence and habits from 
relics of old pottery and stone tools found in underground 
dwellings, most of which are situated near the shore. 
Archeologists believe that these were nomadic tribes, who 
came to the Balkans around 3500 B.C. from what is today 
the Ukraine and the Caspian territory. Then there is a 
gap until about 2500 B.C., at which time the Thracians 
came from Asia Minor, followed by the Illyrians and Hel- 
lenes. The Illyrians brought with them the art of making 
bronze. The Macedonians, of unknown origin, who later 
34 



BOARDING BRIDGE BETWEEN EAST AND WEST 

were assimilated with the Illyrians and Hellenes, pro- 
ceeded to develop an iron civilization. 

Roman legions conquered the Balkans in the first cen- 
tury before Christ. The southern end of the peninsula, 
Greece, was at that time a very highly civilized but 
already decadent area. The northern parts were inhab- 
ited by barbarian tribes whom the Romans conquered 
and with whom they mixed. Four centuries later, the 
conquered peoples took a sort of revenge by "Illyrianiz- 
ing" the topmost stratum of the Roman Empire. The 
Emperors Aurelian and Diocletian were Illyrians, and 
Diocletian in his old age made his home in Spalato, the 
modern city of Split on the Dalmatian coast. 

The Slavs reached the northern areas of the Balkans 
at the beginning of the sixth century. What today is Ru- 
mania, was then Dacia, a province of the Eastern Roman 
Empire of Byzantium (Constantinople) . In the first quar- 
ter of the seventh century, the Serbs and Croats in Dacia 
were made partners of a friendship and non-aggression 
pact with Eastern Rome. They defended the frontiers of 
the Empire against the Avars, a Finnish-Mongolian bar- 
barian nation. At the end of the same century, the Mon- 
golian forefathers of the Bulgars invaded the peninsula 
and subdued the Slavic tribes. But after three hundred 
years of rule, the Bulgars were entirely assimilated with 
the conquered Slavic peoples. 

In the fifteenth century, a gigantic Turkish wave swept 
over the Dardanelles and over the Balkan mpuntains, 
into the Hungarian plain and even further westward to 

35 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

the gates of Vienna. From then on until the twentieth 
century, most of the Balkans was under Turkish rule. 
But the Turks did not unify the conquered area; they 
divided it up into several pashaliks, or semi-autonomous 
provinces each governed by a pasha. The Slavic peoples 
drowned in this Turkish Sea, and for them there began 
a period of historical non-existence as nations. Of all the 
Balkan peoples, only the Greeks maintained a continu- 
ous national and cultural life, even under Turkish dom- 
ination. There was still another spot outside the dena- 
tionalizing power of the Sultan the region of the Black 
Mountains, Crna Gora, or, as the Venetians translated 
the difficult words, Montenegro. We shall discuss the 
historical role of this exception to Turkish submergence 
later. 



THE BUGLE OF THE BASTILLE 

The French Revolution awakened the national ener- 
gies of the Balkan peoples, and Napoleon's foundation 
of the state of Illyria fostered this movement. Uprising 
after uprising blazed forth. The great renaissance of the 
languages and literatures of the Balkan Slavs began at this 
time. In 1793, Sultan Selim armed the Serbian peasants 
of the Pashalik of Belgrade in order to crush a rebellion 
of his unruly Janizaries. This was, as a matter of fact, 
only one of the most striking signs of Turkish decline: 
part of the Raya ("Raya" means "cattle," and was the 
36 



BOARDING BRIDGE BETWEEN EAST AND WEST 

Turkish name for all the subdued, non-Islamic nations) 
had received arms in spite of the rule that "never a Raya 
must be armed." Nine years later, the Serbs rose and tore 
the banner of the crescent moon from the towers of the 
White Castle of Belgrade. 

The struggle for the liberation and self-determination 
of the Balkan peoples was, however, intermingled with, 
and often overshadowed by, the beginning of the struggle 
among all the Great Powers of Europe for influence over, 
or conquest of, the Balkans and the Near East. 

In fact, with the emergence of Russia as a great power, 
the Ottoman Empire came to be regarded by some almost 
as a bulwark of the European "balance of power'* in South- 
ern Europe, and Great Britain made of its maintenance the 
cardinal principle of all her foreign policy. Political prob- 
lems were solved more willingly by partition than by in- 
dependence. The bartering of peoples and provinces "like 
pawns in a game" was an accepted rule of policy, which, in 
the circumstances of that time, awakened no pang of con- 
science. Even Voltaire advised Catherine the Great to help 
herself to the promising territories along the lower Danube. 
Napoleon had a full-fledged plan for the partition of South- 
ern Europe, and thereafter the changing fortunes of Euro- 
pean politics were frequently reflected in the handing to 
and fro of the provinces inhabited by the Balkan peoples. 1 

1 South-Eastern Europe, a Political and Economic Survey, prepared by 
the Foreign Department of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, 
London. 

31 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 
THE BATTLEGROUND OF EUROPE 

Although of the utmost strategic importance, the 
Balkan area has throughout remained poverty-stricken. 
Statisticians have calculated that the Balkans have been 
invaded three times as much as any other part of Europe, 
and that there have been four times as many battles 
fought there as in that other historic theater of war, 
the Plain of Flanders. Turkish rule was devastating for 
the whole economic and cultural development of the 
Balkans. Semi-feudal relationships have remained, up 
into the twentieth century, as a heritage of the Turkish 
period. Foreign power politics and influences have played 
a very big role in keeping the peninsula in the chains of 
illiteracy, poverty, and disease. There has been, until 
now, but very little industry. The peasant constitutes the 
majority of the population. This majority is not only the 
poorest class, but also an incredibly indebted class. The 
middle classes, merchants, and estate-owners are, at the 
same time, the creditors and the holders of political 
power. This fact sharpens and envenoms the differences 
between the poor and the rich, the peasant masses and the 
bourbon few. 

This sociological structure gives the key to the under- 
standing of many characteristics of Balkan political life. 
It explains the palace revolutions and the royal dictator- 
ships, the travesty of parliamentary forms and the cor- 
ruption of the political and administrative apparatus. It 
38 



BOARDING BRIDGE BETWEEN EAST AND WEST 

explains, also, the survival of the condottieri political 
generals and little semi-Oriental despots. 

On the other hand, out of the inarticulate, oppressed, 
illiterate, and miserable masses naturally springs the figure 
of the rebellious noble robber and brigand. The history 
of the Balkans and its folk songs are full of Robin Hoods: 
Hayduks in Bulgaria and Rumania; Klephts in Greece; 
Komitadjis in Serbia and Macedonia all fight the Turk 
and the rich traitor who has joined with the Turk. T^he 
Hayduk robs the rich, but gives to the poor, and wher- 
ever he comes to a poor hut, he may safely lie down to 
sleep, watched over by the peasant and his wife. But, out 
of the noble brigands, later on, under the corrupting 
influence of the political machines, came the guerrilla 
armies of reactionary politics. These evils are the charac- 
teristic fruits of Balkan sociological and historical circum- 
stances; and the secret societies of the Balkans may be 
attributed to the same circumstances: the Serbian "White 
Hand" and "Black Hand," and the Bulgarian "Link," 
which often tried their hands at forging plots and counter- 
plots, and causing Cabinet crises and reversals of national 
policies. 

Geographic situation, historical events, the strange 
mixture of nationalities, and the perpetual intervention 
and competition of the Great Powers shaped the fate of 
the Balkans and made out of them the "powder keg of 
Europe." 



39 



ALBANIA 




/ 

J u-\ 

S V 



SCUTARI 



TIRANA 
'JDURAZZOtO D 



/ 




OCHRIDA 



S A..PRESBA 



CHAPTER 4 



Albania: THE SONS OF THE 

EAGLE, 

"And -from the castle walls 
The crescent banner fall?, 
And the crowd beholds instead, 
Like a portent in the sky, 
Iskander's banner fly, 
The black eagle 'with double head; 
And a shout ascends on high, 
For men's souls are tired of the Turks, 
And their iwcked 'ways and ivorks" 

HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW 



Although Albania is the smallest of the Balkan nations 
JL~Y. and has the sparsest population, great so say the 
modern Albanian historians and linguists are its origins 
and the origins of its race. Remnants of the Pelasgian lan- 
guage, the mother of the Basque tongue, are indeed to be 
found in the Albania of today and seem to prove that the 

41 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

land was, in very ancient times, the home of one of the 
oldest indigenous folk of Europe who settled there long 
before the great migrations of the Indo-European peoples 
from Central Asia. And again, it was two of the first Indo- 
European tribes, the Thracians and Illyrians, who chose 
the Albanian coast land as their new home in Europe. 

Besides the bequests made by the restless Illyrians and 
Thracians, another heritage from classical times is still 
alive in the Albanian language and customs of today. 
You may still hear illiterate shepherds in Southern Al- 
bania, sitting around the mangall, the charcoal fire, and 
roasting their sarma^ a mutton hash wrapped in fresh 
leaves, swear by the names of "Zaa" and "E-Thana," 
which are merely the transformed names of the classical 
Greek god and goddess, Zeus and Athena. 

These same people around their charcoal fire, who cer- 
tainly have not studied textbooks of historical sources, 
will tell you proudly of the great men, known to the 
whole world by their conquests and achievements in three 
continents, who, nevertheless, came out of the back- 
woods of Albania. They claim as their Albanian country- 
man Alexander the Great, whom they call "Lek-I- 
Madhe," and of whom they assert that he was born in 
the village of Emadiya, in the Mati region of Northern 
Albania. One of the most terrible foes of ancient Rome, 
King Pyrrhus of Epirus, remembered for his victories 
which were so costly that they were rather defeats "One 
more such victory and I am lost" is said to have been 
born, and to have lived in his youth, in the Albanian part 
42 



ALBANIA 

of the Epirus Mountains. Also of Albanian origin were 
Emperor Justinian of Byzantium, Pope Clement XI, and 
blood-thirsty, spendthrift, romantic Ali Pasha, the Lion 
of Yanina, one of the most picturesque figures of the 
beginning of the nineteenth century, whose conflicts with 
the Sultan inspired the Greek revolt for independence. 
Mehmet Ali, the leader of the Egyptian revolt in 1881 
and founder of the dynasty of Cairo, was an Albanian; 
and so were Francesco Crispi, the famous Italian states- 
man, and Admiral Konduriotis, the first President of the 
Second Greek Republic. It was an Albanian, the legend- 
ary, gallant Skanderbeg the Iskander of Longfellow's 
poem who, at a time when the Turks had the great bulk 
of the Balkans in their grip, defeated the army of the Sul- 
tan and founded an independent Balkan State. 

In spite of these glamorous names, and in spite of its 
great historical heritage, Albania stepped very tardily 
and modestly into modern history. The Albanians were 
among the last of the European peoples to become a mod- 
ern nation and to develop a modern European civili- 
zation. 

Only a quarter of a century ago, Albanian children 
could learn English in the American school at Tirana, or 
French with the Sisters of the Sacre Coeur at Durazzo 
and Valona, or Italian in one of the courses given in the 
Italian colonies there but it was forbidden, under 
pain of severe punishment, to teach writing in Albanian; 
and Albanian books were considered by the Turkish au- 
thorities to be worse than hidden dynamite. The trans- 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

formation of the different tribal idioms into a unified 
literary language was performed far away from its native 
land, in the colonies of Albanian emigres in Egypt, Dal- 
matia, Italy, and Massachusetts. 

The Sultans who took over Albania at the beginning 
of the sixteenth century after the death of Skanderbeg 
and a short interlude as a Venetian protectoratechose 
from among the conquered tribes twenty-five of their 
grand viziers, hundreds of their officers, and thousands 
of their best troops; but, for very good reasons, they 
kept the country in a state of permanent barbarism and 
terror. The Turkish garrisons in the main coastal towns 
and in some mountain strongholds kept the banner of 
the crescent moon flying over Albania, but the tribes- 
men remained relatively untamed. From time to time, 
revolts swept over the country. In 1 8 3 5 , 1 8 3 6, 1 842 , 1 849, 
1851, and 1852, rebellions had to be crushed by the Jani- 
zaries. It was only in 1912 that Turkish rule was done 
away with as a result of the First Balkan War. 

AN OPERETTA KING 

The Greeks and the Serbs, with British and Russian 
support respectively, claimed Albania, and so did Aus- 
tria-Hungary and Italy. As a result of these rivalries, 
Albania emerged from the peace conference that closed 
the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913, as an "independent" 
country. Since all the Great Powers involved were mon- 
archies, Albania was made a kingdom. After long and 
44 



ALBANIA 

painful negotiations between the chancelleries of London, 
St. Petersburg, Vienna, and Rome, a German prince, 
Wilhelm von Wied, was put on the throne of the hastily 
built palace in Durazzo. 

The strongest supporter of the candidacy of Prince 
von Wied was the Austro-Hungarian Minister of For- 
eign Affairs, Count Berchtold, who aspired to be the 
best-dressed minister of His Apostolic Majesty, and of 
whom the race track touts of the day said that he was an 
excellent diplomat, whereas the diplomats declared him 
to be the best connoisseur of horses in their time. Oppo- 
sition members of the Vienna Parliament characterized 
the Albanian policy of Count Berchtold as made to follow 
the pattern of certain Viennese operettas with Balkan 
settings. 

Prince Wilhelm von Wied was a real operetta king. 
Before moving to his new capital, he had already founded 
three different Orders, with Grand Crosses and sashes. 
The uniforms of the Royal Guard were designed by him- 
self. He took with him eighty-eight chamberlains and 
grand chamberlains, all of aristocratic origin, but he for- 
got to buy a dictionary of the Albanian language. 

After six months, his royal glory was at an end. A re- 
volt, financed by Italy at that time an ally of Austria- 
Hungary! drove the Viennese puppet king from his 
throne in order to prepare the way for some marionette 
of Rome and thereby secure Albania for Italy. This was 
in 1914. 

The outbreak of the World War destroyed the Italian 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

plan, and also the existence of the ''independent" Al- 
banian State. During the war Albania was invaded by 
seven different foreign armies. In 1915, the secret Treaty 
of London promised Southern Albania to Italy for 
switching from the side of the Central Powers to the side 
of the Western Allies. But renewed rivalries among the 
victorious Great Powers caused the rejection of the Ital- 
ian claim, and the Italian army of occupation had to be 
withdrawn. In December 1920 Albania became a member 
of the League of Nations. The final frontiers were drawn 
one year later, after a tug-of-war between Italy and Yugo- 
slavia, and a bitter conflict with Greece, which coveted 
certain districts of Southern Albania. 

Italy, however, having left the country by the main 
door, returned to influence through a back door. It was 
by way of economic influence and conquest that Italian 
power was established, not without the help of a British 
minister bearing the name of Chamberlain; this time, it 
was Austen, and not Neville, who helped Mussolini to 
bag a weak country. The British envoy in Tirana, who 
opposed the conclusion of an Italian- Albanian treaty of 
alliance and friendship, was recalled by Sir Austen, and 
Italy was allowed to state that this had been done in order 
to indicate British consent to the Italian pact. In Novem- 
ber 1927 the pact was signed and Albania was pushed onto 
the road which led, in 1939, to the complete occupation 
of the country and its incorporation into the Mussolinian 
Empire. 

4* 



ALBANIA 

SHKUPETARIA 

The 1 1, 600 square miles of Albanian territory consist 
largely of rough terrain mountains and hills covered 
with forests. There is no railway in the whole country, 
but there is a pipe line, oil for the Italian Navy being 
more important than transportation for the Albanian 
population. The coast has no good or big ports. Only 
1 1 percent of the area is arable land. The methods of 
agriculture are medieval. Even now, the villages seem to 
be built more for defense than for dwelling purposes. 
The 1,003,000 inhabitants are mostly (84 percent) of Al- 
banian nationality, but there are Greek and Turkish 
minorities, and a few Vlachs, 1 Jews, and Serbs. 

The nation is still in the making, the tribal groupings 
being of more importance than national unity. The Al- 
banians are mainly divided into two large groups of 
tribes: the Tosks in the South, and the Ghegs in the 
North. Both call themselves "Shkupetars" "Sons of the 
Eagle." There still exist clan wars and blood feuds. The 
"Law of Lek" an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth 
still operates as the chief agency of capital punishment 
and is executed according to strict rules. This law of the 
blood feud is not a matter of personal hatred but actually 
represents one of the oldest forms of jury trial in the 
world. 

There is oil in the country, but it is owned by the f or- 

1 Called also **Tsintsars" or "Aromuns" Slavonized Rumanians, 

41 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

eigners. Corn, tobacco, rice, wine, charcoal, salt, and 
sulphur are the main riches of the land. Under the rule of 
the Sultan, the best arable land and all the natural re- 
sources of the country were owned by the "Begs," the 
squires. The peasant worked the Beg's land and had to 
deliver one-third of the crop to him. Even now the Begs 
own the best fields, and the peasants have to give them 25 
to 3 3 percent of the harvest. In the mountainous part of 
the country, water is the vital need. The individual 
peasant is too poor to drill wells, and so he becomes 
doubly dependent upon the rich. 

In 1930, an agrarian reform bill was passed, but the 
Begs successfully sabotaged its practical realization. 
Under the provisions of the law, 30 percent of the land 
owned by the Begs was to have been broken up into par- 
cels for landless peasants; only one-half of one percent of 
the land was actually parceled out. 

The East India Company of Albania was and still 
is the Societa per lo Sviluppo Economico del' Albania 
(SVEA). As far back as the early twenties, SVEA had 
already taken control of the state monopolies, of the min- 
eral resources, and of the state finances. More than three- 
fourths of the share capital of the Bank of Albania thus 
came into the possession of Rome. Practically all state 
loans were granted by Italy. For the management of the 
service of these loans, hundreds of Italian specialists and 
experts were ordered into the civil service of Albania. All 
state enterprises and public works were directed by 
Italians. 



ALBANIA 

J*P 

RISE AND FALL OF ZOG 

The political rule of Rome was first intermediated 
through a native king-dictator. This man, Achmet Bey 
Zog I, Mbreti Shkuptarvet Bird the First, King of all 
the Sons of the Eagle was in appearance, development, 
and political profile a Balkan product par excellence. Like 
his royal predecessor, Wilhelm von Wied, King Zog also 
had something of the operetta about him: in 1938 he 
married a Hungarian Countess of American descent after 
seeing her photograph in a magazine. But the operetta 
was mixed with tragedy. Bird the First did more than pose 
smilingly with his soft brown mustache and his receding 
chin (which the official portraitists endeavored to con- 
ceal) ; he also engineered rebellions and political murders. 
He managed palace revolutions and undertook bloody 
campaigns. 

As one of the historiographs of Albania puts it: "In his 
curious world, Bird the First did the work which Provi- 
dence had assigned to him, with urbanity and serenity, 
combined with well-defined ruthlessness. His personal 
qualities stood him in good stead in a realm where the 
quickest trigger reigns over the quick trigger." 

Achmet Bey Zog, then called Zogogli, was born in 
1895, the son of the most powerful Moslem clan chieftain 
of the North, the head of the Mati tribe. For his educa- 
tion he was sent to Istanbul, first to the school for pages, 
and then to the Officer's Academy. 

In 1 9 1 2 , when the First Balkan War broke out, Achmet 

49 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

then only seventeen years old was called back to his 
native Albania and took command of the Mati tribe. To- 
gether with a cousin of the same age as himself, he di- 
rected the campaign against the invading Serbs. When, 
in the same year, Albanian independence was solemnly 
proclaimed in the marketplace of Valona, Achmet was 
among the eighty-odd notables present. He became one 
of the most ardent supporters of Prince Wilhelm von 
Wied. 

In opposition to Essad Pasha, the great man behind the 
political scene and chief advisor to Prince Wilhelm 
(whom Essad later sent into exile), Achmet Zog recom- 
mended the election of a democratic assembly. His ad- 
vice was not heeded, and when Essad drove out the King 
with Italian connivance Achmet hurriedly retired to 
his northern Mati district. 

From there, he and his tribesmen joined the invading 
Austrians, who had penetrated Albania after having over- 
run Montenegro in the early stages of the First World 
War. The Austrians recompensed him with the title of 
"Imperial and Royal Colonel" and the Order of Franz 
Joseph. Charles, last Emperor of Austria, affixed this 
Order with his own Apostolic hand upon the uniform of 
Achmet Zog. But when he was suspected of planning to 
call together an Albanian national congress, he was invited 
in the most friendly manner to the Hapsburg Court in 
Vienna, and was kept there, interned, until the end of the 
war. 

In November 1918 Achmet returned to Albania and 



ALBANIA 

was made Commander-in-Chief of the Albanian armed 
forces. He fought against the Italians, the Serbs, and the 
Sreeks, and found time enough in between to squelch a 
revolt in the capital and to become Minister of the In- 
terior. After the crushing of still another putsch, he 
tielped Shefket Bey Verlaci one of the biggest estate- 
owners of the country and furiously opposed to every 
ittempt at land reformto the Premiership. When, in 
1924, the regime of Shefket Bey was defeated by the Pro- 
gressives under the leadership of Harvard-educated 
Bishop Fan Noli, Achmet Zog had to emigrate. 

He went to Yugoslavia, where he was received with 
open arms by his old foes, the Serbs. The Albanian Pro- 
gressive Government meanwhile committed a suicidal 
mistakethey followed the example of a Labour Gov- 
ernment in England and established diplomatic relations 
with the Soviet Union. This, of course, aroused the Great 
Powers, and so Achmet Zog could attempt an invasion 
without having to fear their interference. He undertook 
this invasion with the open help of Yugoslav mercenaries 
and remnants of the White Russian army of General 
Wrangel, which had found asylum in Yugoslavia. 

In 1 9 2 5 , after the flight of Fan Noli, Achmet Zog pro- 
claimed himself President of the Albanian Republic. 
Three and a half years later he made himself King. Having 
to rely upon the Begs and the Italian-trained generals for 
protection from the poor and being surrounded by three 
countries which coveted Albanian territory in whole or 
in large parts, Achmet Zog chose one of the evils con- 

5' 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

fronting him the greatest one. He associated himself 
with the Italian wolf, which, in 1939, was to swallow the 
Albanian Little Red Riding Hood. 

In World War II, Southern Albania became a battle- 
field in the first stage of the Italo-Greek hostilities. Upris- 
ings of Albanians against Italian rule were headlined, but, 
in reality, they did not take place on a large scale. The 
people, cheated by the Begs and Zog, saw no reason to re- 
volt against the Fascisti in order to get back Zog. On the 
other hand, Albanian auxiliary troops, forced to serve 
with the Italian Army, adroitly followed the example of 
numerous Italian units which preferred not to fight for 
II Duce, but to show their feelings towards Fascism by 
surrendering. 

But in the heart of the Albanian landless peasant and 
poor shepherd there glows the same rebellious hope as in 
the hearts of other Balkan peasants the desire for land 
and for freedom from foreign and domestic oppression. 




V I N V 9 1 V 



1 

V 



CHAPTER 5 



Macedonia: FORLORN LAND 



"Better a Gypsy <wife or a boat at sea than a home in 
Macedonia" 

BALKAN FOLK SAYING 



Tobacco; and violent uprisings against the Turks, and 
later against the Serbs and Greeks; and constant war- 
fare and bloodshed; and bandits and Komitadjisthese 
were for many years all that the average newspaper reader 
outside the Balkans associated with the word "Mace- 
donia." 

Even the student of Balkan affairs must confess that 
Macedonia is a very hard nut to crack. There is an im- 
mense literature about Macedonia, but hardly another 
Balkan theme is so distorted by the hatred of opposing 
groups and parties. Nevertheless, if we try to handle it 
with critical objectivity, we shall find behind the nebu- 

55 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

Ions and bloody and sometimes very romantic f agade of 
Macedonia the same basic problems as elsewhere in the 
Balkans social, national, and international. 

Macedonia is situated in the heart of the Balkans, 
whence comes its geographic and strategic importance. 
"Whoever dominates the Vardar Valley is master of the 
peninsula," is part of the axiomatic wisdom of all students 
of the Balkans. It is a country without definite frontiers, 
a forlorn land, divided up into three parts: a Bulgarian, 
a Serbian, and a Greek one. Roughly demarcated, it is 
the territory between Kumanovo in the north, Salonica 
in the south, Drama and Kavalla in the east; and Bitolj 
in the west. f 

The inhabitants are a mixture of peoples, the majority 
of them Slavic. Macedonian idioms belong neither to the 
Serbian nor to the Bulgarian tongues. They constitute a 
sort of link between these two branches of the South 
Slavic family of languages. The Serbs, however, call the 
Macedonian language "Southern Serbian"; the Greeks 
contend that the Macedonians are only "Slavophones," 
meaning Slavic-speaking Greeks; and the Bulgarians 
claim the Macedonians as pure Bulgars. The Macedonians 
themselves are not asked their opinion. And this is the 
story of Macedonia in a nutshell: a country and a people 
continually under the domination of other peoples and 
states, a bone of contention between rival neighbors, a 
battlefield for foreign wars, an oft-cheated rebel whose 
struggle for freedom and independence has been con- 
stantly misused for the sake of others. 



MACEDONIA 

Almost 90 percent of the Macedonians are peasants, 
most of them extremely poverty-stricken. Iron plows are 
almost unknown. The best arable lands belong, even now> 
to the rich Begs, and the peasant is, so to speak, a serf. 
Salonica, the great port of Macedonia, is not an export 
outlet of this agrarian area, but must serve instead as an 
import point for grain and flour. The chief Macedonian 
exports are tobacco and emigrants. 

The formation of a modern nation is a sociological 
process which begins only at a certain level of cultural 
and economic development. Up to 1 860, the Macedonian 
population Slavs, Greeks, Rumanians, Spanyols, and 
half a dozen curious mixtures and assimilations, as for in- 
stance Albanianized Slavs, Hellenized Slavs, Hellenized 
Rumanians, Islamicized Jews was simply a medley of 
clans and tribes. 

During the nineteenth century, the newly formed 
Balkan States co-operated in trying to free their still 
oppressed fellow-nationals and fellow-Christians in Mac- 
edonia. From Belgrade, Athens, and Sofia they fostered 
rebellious groups and secret societies in Macedonia. First 
they did it simply by means of propaganda, but they soon 
added active participation in guerrilla warfare against the 
Sultan. Bulgarian, Serbian, and Greek bands crossed the 
borders into Macedonia, and vice-versa. Macedonia be- 
came a battlefield, full of terror, bloodshed, the smoke of 
burning villages, and cries of vengeance. 

In the sixties of the nineteenth century, Macedonia 
was not yet an object of controversy between Bulgaria 

57 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

on the one hand and Serbia and Greece on the other. Bul- 
gars and Serbs worked together to free the Macedonians 
from the yoke of the Turk, and to create, with their lib- 
erated brothers, a great unified South Slavic Empire. It 
was the policy of the Tsars and the Hapsburgs which dis- 
united the Balkan Slavic peoples. The Tsarist policy set 
out to form a separate Bulgaria as a bridge to Istanbul. 
The Hapsburgs, on the other hand, dreamt of Serbia as a 
springboard towards Salonica. As a result of these power 
politics, Macedonia became a source of disunity and 
hatred between Serbia and Bulgaria. 

THE BULGAROSERBIAN FEUD 

The Peace of San Stefano that ended the Russo-Turk- 
ish War of 1878, gave the whole of Macedonia to Bul- 
garia, but the Great Powers at the Congress of Berlin 
took Macedonia away from Bulgaria and restored it to 
the Sultan. The Macedonian feud between Bulgaria and 
Serbia began after 1881, when King Milan of Serbia re- 
ceived from Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria the secret 
promise that Macedonia would be given to Serbia in re- 
turn for the latter's renunciation of all claims on the prov- 
ince of Bosnia. Thus Austria tried to divert Serbian ex- 
pansionist aspirations away from the north and toward 
Macedonia, away from the Adriatic and toward the 
Aegean. This secret pact initiated in 1 885 a war between 
Serbia and Bulgaria in which the Serbs were defeated. 
The fate of Macedonia remained unsettled. 
58 



MACEDONIA 

The revolution of the Young Turks in the first decade 
of the twentieth century made an attempt at solving the 
Macedonian problem by granting religious freedom to 
the population while, at the same time, Turkifying it na- 
tionally. 

In 1912, Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, and Greece 
concluded a Balkan pact directed against Turkey. The 
alliance foresaw a partition of Macedonia, the greater 
part going to Bulgaria. But after the victory over Turkey 
Serbia was denied access to the Adriatic by Austrian pol- 
icy. So, with Serbia's aspirations again turned southward, 
the Second Balkan War flared up among the former allies. 
This time Bulgaria was defeated, and Serbia and Greece 
divided up the booty. Only about 10,000 square miles of 
Macedonian territory was given to Bulgaria, whereas 
Greece and Serbia received 28,000 square miles each. 

In 1915, in the second year of World War I, Bulgaria 
joined the Central Powers and turned her arms against 
the Serbs and later against the Greeks. For three years 
the whole of Macedonia was under Bulgarian rule. Then 
came the reversal. Serbia now Yugoslavia and Greece 
again took over most of Macedonia. From then on, the 
Yugoslav-Bulgar frontier was, for almost twenty years, 
lined with barbed-wire entanglements and blockhouses. 
A state of constant guerrilla warfare reigned in the South 
Yugoslav districts, with Macedonian bands killing Yugo- 
slav officials and receiving supplies and reinforcements 
from across the Bulgarian border. 



59 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 
IMRO 

Countless are the newspaper reports and thriller stories 
about the Macedonian bands, about the secret organiza- 
tion IMRO the four letters that spell death. And it is 
true that the history of IMRO often resembles the news- 
paper reports of Chicago gang murders in the days of Al 
Capone. On the other hand, the history of IMRO is rich 
in heroic episodes and revolutionary deeds of great ideal- 
ism and valor. Crime and idealism, robbery and the strug- 
gle for freedom, were intimately interwoven in the story 
of IMRO, and it seems almost impossible to unravel the 
tangled threads. 

Long before IMRO, Macedonia was peculiarly the 
land of outlaws and freebooters. Peasant rebels called 
"Haidutins" roamed the valleys between the Pirin Moun- 
tains and Lake Ochrida. In a famous poem by the Bulgar 
poet Boteff, the Haidutins are described as a "wing for 
the wretched poor, but terrible to extortionists and 
Turks." The fame of the Haidutins, who plundered the 
houses of rich Turkish Begs and killed Turkish gen- 
darmes, was sung at the wells of every village in Mace- 
donia. 

One of the Haidutins, Apostol Petkoff , was the na- 
tional hero of the seventies, eighties, and nineties. Sultan 
Abdul Hamid feared this man so much that he offered 
him an armistice and a pension, but Apostol refused. He 
was the uncrowned king of the Vardar marshes. We 
know him from a photograph taken by a Greek barber 
60 



MACEDONIA 

in Salonica, to whose shop Apostol came to take a hair cut 
"under the eyes of the Pasha." There he stands, with a 
sort of turban on his head; his long, black, stiff mustachios 
pointed out from either side of his face; his breast cov- 
ered with medals, trophies of killed Turkish officers. In 
his hand is a rifle with many silver nails in the stock, every 
nail representing a killed enemy. He fell through treason, 
but the joy of the Sultan and his gendarmes over the death 
of the "Lone Wolf" was darkened, for a new enemy had 
risen in Macedonia IMRO. 

In the autumn of 1 89 3 , a student and a teacher founded 
in Reesen, a little town of Western Macedonia, a secret 
society on the pattern of the Carbonaris of Italy. They 
called it the "Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Or- 
ganization," and its aim was to fight for the liberation 
and complete independence of Macedonia. Its symbol 
was a black cloth, signifying serfdom under the Turks, 
and embroidered across it, the inscription, in white: "Lib- 
erty or Death." Members had to swear an oath on Bible, 
dirk, and pistol, as follows: 

"I swear on my faith, conscience, and honor that I 
will work for the liberty of Macedonia and the Vilayet 
of Adrianople with all my strength and means, and that 
I will never betray the secrets of the revolutionary work 
of IMRO. Should I do so, may I be killed by this dagger, 
which I kiss. Amen." 

Soon a network of IMRO committees covered the 
whole Macedonian countryside, which was divided into 
"revolutionary districts." The Central Committee of 

61 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

IMRO, consisting of three members, resided in Salonica. 
IJMRO's military force was well organized in secret de- 
tachments called "Chetas." These troops enforced the 
decisions of IMRO, and of its courts; they collected taxes, 
and they avenged peasants maltreated by the Turks* 
Even a reserve force was organized, a secret village mili- 
tia. IMRO became a sort of state within the state. 

For four years the Turkish authorities knew nothing 
of the existence of this all-Macedonian revolutionary or- 
ganization. They detected it by accident in 1897. A* 1 
IMRO Cheta had caught a rich Turkish Beg near Vinitza, 
extracted nine hundred pounds in gold coins from him, 
and then killed him in order to prevent betrayal or re- 
venge. A Turkish punitive expedition burned all the 
villages in the neighborhood and found a secret cache of 
dynamite. 

From then on, IMRO acted openly. Its "ambassador" 
Sarafoff, for instance, called on the American consul in 
St. Petersburg and offered him five hundred Macedonian 
volunteers for the war against Spain, in exchange for 
arms. The deal did not go through, but Sarafoff wrote 
that the consul "was friendly and interested." 

ILINDEN 

In 1903, IMRO felt strong enough to stage an uprising. 
On the evening of August 2, the day of the St. Ilya (the 
prophet Elijah), revolt flared up simultaneously in a 
dozen villages and hamlets. This was the famous "Ilinden" 
62 



MACEDONIA 

revolt. The Turks had 150,000 soldiers garrisoned in 
Macedonia, but they did not suffice. They had to bring 
in another 1 50,000 troops to fight the 30,000 members of 
IMRO Chetas and militia. In the first weeks of the upris- 
ing the revolutionists captured three towns. The revolt 
lasted for three months; and 230 battles and skirmishes 
were fought. By the end of it, 994 insurgents and 5328 
Turkish soldiers and officers had been killed. The Turks 
burned 200 villages, killed 4700 non-combatant peasants, 
raped 5000 women, and made 70,000 people homeless. 

The news of the Turkish horrors stirred the capitals 
of civilized Europe. An international investigation was 
started and buried. The Turkish gendarmerie in Mace- 
donia, reorganized with the aid of foreign officers, con- 
tinued to fight the restless Komitadjis. The guerrilla war 
went on as before. 

When the Balkan War broke out in 1912, the IMRO 
chief, Todor Alexandroif , issued an appeal for open up- 
risings in support of the Balkan allies. The Central 
Committee of IMRO then knew nothing of the secret 
treaty of Greece, Serbia, and Bulgaria concerning the 
division of Macedonia. The revolutionists expected to 
gain Macedonian freedom as a reward for their aid. 

After the war, the Komitadjis (members of the revo- 
lutionary committees) turned furiously against Serbia, 
which had taken the greatest part of Macedonia. But by 
that time, the IMRO movement had already come under 
the influence and onto the payroll of Bulgarian nationalist 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

circles, the greater part of the leadership fighting not for 
a free Macedonia but for a Bulgarian Macedonia. 



REACTION AND FEUDISM 

In the first years after the World War, Bulgarian reac- 
tionary groups and the Italian Banca Commerciale made 
out of IMRO an instrument of reactionary internal poli- 
tics in Bulgaria, and of imperialistic policy in the Balkans. 
Terrorist groups of IMRO were used by the fascist oppo- 
nents of the great democratic peasant leader Stamboliski, 
who was murdered in 192 3. Professor TsankofF, a Social- 
Democrat turned fascist, who engineered the putsch 
against Stamboliski and followed him as Prime Minister, 
gave the whole Bulgarian district of Petrich over to the 
IMRO to rule as it wished, without interference, and 
with the power to levy taxes and terrorize the population. 
Bands were sent across the border into Yugoslav Mace- 
donia, but assassination expeditions were also dispatched 
into Bulgarian cities to kill off opponents of the govern- 
ment. 

IMRO had degenerated into an organization of crim- 
inals. A strong faction called IMRO United, however, 
kept to the original ideals of the struggle for freedom and 
independence, and opposed the corrupted leadership. 
This leadership eventually devoured itself. 

In 1923, DaskalofF, former Bulgarian Minister of the 
Interior, was shot before the Bulgarian Legation in 
Prague. In 1924, Chauleff, member of the Central Com- 



MACEDONIA 

mittee of IMRO, was killed on the terrace of a cafe in 
Milan. In the same year Alexandroff was murdered by 
his colleague Protogheroff 's killers. Four years later, Pro- 
togheroff was shot in a Sofia street by AlexandrofFs 
friends. In 1925, Todor Panitza was "liquidated" in a 
mystery-story setting. While he was attending a per- 
formance of Peer Gynt at the Viennese Burg theater, the 
young woman who shared the box with him took a re- 
volver out of her pocketbook and shot him in the neck. 
She was married, as a reward, by the man who had sent 
her to kill Panitza IMRO's bloodiest, most ruthless, and 
most criminal chieftain, Ivan Mihailoff. 

Under Mihailoff, the technique of murder was raised 
to that of modern conveyor systems. In 1932, fifteen of 
his killers engaged a dozen men of a rival IMRO group 
right under the windows of the palace of King Boris in 
Sofia. The King, his guard, and the police looked on but 
made no move. The murderers got away without pun- 
ishment. When Mihailoff was formally indicted in 1 93 9, 
207 attorneys of Sofia begged for the honor of acting as 
his defenders. 

Mihailoif concluded a pact with the Croatian terrorists 
who founded the Ustashi organization. Their leader was 
Ante Pavelitch, who in 1941 was chosen by Hitler and 
Mussolini to become the head of the "Independent Croa- 
tian State." Mihailoff lent his ally Pavelitch some of his 
pet assassins in order to drill the Ustashis. One of those in- 
structors was Vlada Tchernozemski, called "Vlada the 
Chauffeur," who killed King Alexander of Yugoslavia 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

and French Foreign Minister Barthou in Marseille in 



In this same year, MihailofFs enemies grasped the 
reigns of government in Sofia, after a putsch engineered 
by King Boris and several colonels. Mihailoff was forced 
to flee, and now lives somewhere in Turkey, hidden and 
almost forgotten, except that his memory is still cursed 
by the Macedonian peasants who nonetheless revere the 
memory of the old heroic IMRO of the times of Ilinden. 1 

In World War II, Macedonia has again become a bat- 
tlefield. A few bands of reactionary Imroists joined the 
Nazi armies as they poured into Yugoslavia, but the bulk 
of the population did not greet the soldiers under the 
swastika as liberators. And it is significant that on the 
day of the Yugoslav surrender, when official Bulgarian 
hopes of recovering the whole of Macedonia were high, 
the government papers carried sharp attacks against 
"those Bolshevist elements of Imro United who want 
to split national unity by renewing their old demagogic 
slogan of Macedonia for the Macedonians." 

1 As this book goes to press, a news dispatch from Istanbul reports that 
Mihailoff has been permitted to return to Bulgaria, where he was greeted 
by the bloody flag with the swastika. 



66 



Olive 



GREECE 



Tobacco 

<ck 

Fishing 



^*V 



-s I j 

= TUIDA/-C = f 



THRACE 








Macedonians 



CHAPTER 6 



Hellas: HOME OF BEAUTY 

AND POVERTY 

"Of what value is a golden vase, if you can only spit 
blood into it?" 

GREEK FOLK SAYING 



I remember one of those spring evenings in Athens 
when the Greek Islands really corresponded to their 
Homeric name "The Green Isles." Coining down from 
the Acropolis, eternal monument of classic Greek beauty, 
our eyes full of the picture of the sunset behind the 
mountain chain of Salamis that island in the "wine-col- 
ored" bay where in ancient days the Persian armada was 
smashed by a small fleet of Greeks we were suddenly 
confronted by the striking misery of the ragged, dirty, 
hungry refugees from the former Greek settlements in 
Asia Minor. 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

These refugees had had to leave their homes on the 
Asiatic coast after the Greco-Turkish War of 1922-23, 
and for many months had been camping on the terraces 
and steps of these ancient temples, offering an appalling 
contrast to the architectural marvels of the "golden cen- 
tury of Pericles/' Untouched by this contrast, gentlemen 
in good English clothes and neatly uniformed army offi- 
cers drove to their recreation. Somebody suddenly said: 
"That's Greece Hellas, home of beauty and poverty." 



TOWN AND COUNTY 

Greece, the spread-fingered hand of the Balkan Pen- 
insula stretching out into the Aegean, is one of the most 
mountainous parts of the mountainous Balkans. Only 15 
percent of her total area of 50,000 square miles is arable 
land; whereas, in the other Balkan countries, 30 to 60 
percent is fit for agriculture. There are no important min- 
eral resources in Greece, but its industry is greater than 
that of any other Balkan State. 

Nonetheless, 61 percent of the population is employed 
in agriculture, and only 2 3 percent in industry and trans- 
portation. Of the 6,900,000 inhabitants, more than 
1,500,000 were refugees from Asia Minor, having come 
into the country after 1923. Almost 90 percent of the 
population is Greek; the rest are Macedonians, Bulgars, 
and Turks, with a few Armenians, Jews, and Albanians. 

The riches of the country are concentrated in the hands 
of a small minority of urban dwellers, mostly in Athens 
70 



HELLAS 

and Salonica. The two-thirds of the people on farms are 
poverty-stricken. Traces of feudalism are still to be found 
in the agricultural provinces. In the decade between 1920 
and 1930 there were several attempts at land reform, but 
only 45 percent of the land available for redistribution 
was parceled out. Besides, the peasants on the redistributed 
land had no cattle or machines, while the farm indebted- 
ness is extraordinarily high, poor peasants paying interest 
as high as 50 to 80 percent on their small loans. 

Town and country are divided even linguistically: the 
farmer and the fisherman talk Demotiki, which is a folk 
idiom; the urban intelligentsia, the newspapers, the au- 
thorities in their documents use Katharevousa, a literary 
language heavily enriched with ancient Greek words. 
Though there is great illiteracy in the country, there had 
to be introduced numerus clausus at the University of 
Athens for students of law. There were already too many 
attorneys even for a Balkan capital, with its huge shifts 
of politicians, both active in the machines, and prospec- 
tively active. Meanwhile, physicians were sufficient in 
number only in the cities, and there v was a great lack of 
skilled agriculturalists. 

The industrial workers, concentrated in Salonica, 
Kavalla, Volo, and Piraeus, began very early to organize 
themselves into strong labor unions, and to build up 
workers' parties. 

The merchant marine of Greece is one of the largest 
in the world. In 1938, ships with a total tonnage of 
2,500,000 flew the Greek flag. Exports of tobacco and 

7* 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

currants were huge, practically the whole of these crops 
being sent abroad. The stock exchanges in Athens and 
Salonica have tripled their turnover within the last five 
years. In the same period, child mortality rose by 8 per- 
cent. 



RISE OF GREEK INDEPENDENCE 

The seven and a half centuries of ancient Greek history 
need no recapitulation here, nor do the following three 
hundred and fifty years of Roman rule over Greece. 
Nor need we concern ourselves with the millennium of 
the Byzantine Empire, saturated with Hellenic culture, 
which began in A.D. 395. From 1456 the Sultans and their 
Pashas ruled the country, but even under Turkish rule 
the Greeks kept contact with the West. They had no 
period of historical non-existence like the Balkan Slavs. 

Revolts were numerous. In 1814, when Napoleon's 
star went down in the West, the first light of Greek lib- 
erty rose in the East with the founding of Philike Hetaira, 
the secret "Society of Friends," for the purpose of lib- 
erating Greece. It was launched in a wine cellar in the 
Russian city of Odessa, on the Black Sea; and six years 
later, when the Sublime Porte was busy fighting the rebel- 
lious "Lion of Yanina," Ali Pasha, the Greeks saw their 
opportunity to strike. 

Alexander Ypsilanti, tall, fiery-eyed, black-maned 
Greek exile and Russian general, suddenly disappeared 



HELLAS 

from his garrison, and, with a couple of hundred volun- 
teers, crossed the frontier between the Tsar's Empire and 
the Turkish province of Moldavia, now Rumania. His 
ardent appeal to the Balkan peoples to rise was disre- 
garded by the Rumanians. They hated the rich Greeks, 
who were the tax collectors of the Sultan and the merci- 
less creditors and the rapacious merchants who sat in the 
few towns of the Danube principalities and were like 
leeches upon the huge body of the peasantry. Ypsilanti 
and his small troop were quickly defeated by the Turks^ 
and he fled to Hungary. 

But an uprising in the southern part of Greece, coming 
seemingly too late, had unexpected success. Athens was 
captured by Greek rebels, the Sultan's navy having 
been completely immobilized by desertions of the Greek 
sailors who constituted the bulk of the crews. The Turks 
took measures of revenge. They slaughtered fifteen thou- 
sand Greeks on the island of Chios, whereupon the 
Greeks killed all the Turkish men, women, and children 
in Athens. 

A wave of sympathy for the Greeks went round the 
world. President Monroe expressed American solidarity 
with the Greek cause in his message to Congress on De- 
cember 12, 1822. Byron, idol of the romantic youth of 
his day, joined the forces of the Greek army of liberation 
only to die on Greek soiL In all the countries of Western 
and Central Europe, Philhellenic Societies were formed 
and money was collected. Women prepared rolls of lint 

73 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

for the Greek heroes, and young men dreamt of smug- 
gling arms into Missolonghi, the beleaguered Greek 
fortress on the Corinthian Gulf. 

But popular sympathy and enthusiasm are one thing, 
and power politics another. The Great Powers, the offi- 
cial champions of humanity and Christianity, at first pur- 
sued a prudent policy of non-intervention with regard 
to the battle for freedom of the small Christian people of 
Greece against the ruthless rule of the Moslem Sultan. 
Even more, the Holy Alliance of the Tsar of Russia, the 
King of Prussia, and the Emperor of Austria, assisted by 
the government of His Majesty the King of England, de- 
clared the principle of legitimacy, as represented by the 
Sultan, in danger through the illegitimate uprisings of the 
rebellious Greeks, So, Mehmet Ali of Egypt, former 
rebel against the Sultan and now his most loyal executor, 
was allowed to crush the Greek revolution, though in the 
small city of Missolonghi a few Greek soldiers put up an 
epical defense for more than eighteen months. 

In 1 827 Athens was again Turkish, but public opinion 
forced its will upon the reactionary governments, and 
Great Britain, France, and Russia demanded that the Sul- 
tan give the Greeks autonomy. In order to support their 
demand, an international fleet was sent to make a demon- 
stration in the Aegean Sea. The firing of a chance shot 
caused an involuntary sea battle, and two-thirds of the 
Egyptian fleet and one-third of the fleet of the Great 
Powers was annihilated near Cape Navarino. 
14 



HELLAS 

THE FIRST REPUBLIC 

In 1829 Greek independence was finally proclaimed, 
and John Capo d'Istria was made President of the Re- 
public. When he was assassinated in 1831, the Great 
Powers, which had in any case not looked with too in- 
dulgent an eye upon the institution of a republic, made 
the Greek people the gift of a king in the person of Otto 
von Wittelsbach. Since then, except for a republican 
intermezzo between 1923 and 1935, Greece has enjoyed 
monarchical rule. 

The Greek consumption of kings has been consider- 
able. Of the five who have held the scepter of Greece, 
three were dethroned. (The second of the dethroned 
monarchs, Constantine, was even dethroned twice.) A 
fourth was killed, and only one died as a king a so-to- 
speak natural death from the bite of an ape. George II, 
the present King of Greece, has already, before the 
coming of the Nazis, had one experience as a dethroned 
and exiled sovereign. 

Kings have come and gone during the past eighty years 
of Greek history, but its towering figure has not been a 
man of royal blood. He was a sharp-tongued, witty 
lawyer from the Isle of Crete, gifted with many of the 
brilliant qualities Homer attributed to the hero of Ithaca, 
the indefatigable Ulysses, rich in guile and artful cunning. 
His lively eyes, deep and full of a peculiar light behind 
their gold-rimmed spectacles, had an extraordinary 
power over his interlocutors. His language bewitched 

15 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

both the man in the street of Athens and the Professor- 
President in the White House in Washington. His name 
was Venizelos, and his parents had given him the signifi- 
cant Christian name Eleutherios, which means "the De- 
liverer," as if they had known that he would one day 
help to emancipate his native island. 

THE TIGER OF CRETE 

As a student, Venizelos joined the fighters for liberty in 
the almost impenetrable mountains of Crete, which was 
still ruled by the Turks. The tradition of the noble rob- 
bers, the Klephts who killed the Turkish overlords and 
sacked their castles, was still in full life. Young Venizelos 
took up the rifle and the book at the same time. Passion- 
ate, violent, indefatigable, greedy for power, and capable 
of hatred and deceit as only those island Greeks could be, 
for twenty-five years he directed the Cretan guerrilla 
bands in their struggles against the Turks. He negotiated 
with the consuls of the Great Powers; he bought and 
smuggled arms; he maintained manifold relations with 
the patriotic societies on the liberated Greek mainland. 
He learned English, French, and Italian, and took his 
doctor's degree in law. 

In 1906 he was the soul of the biggest uprising in the 
history of Crete. It lasted four years, and ended with a 
decisive victory. A political earthquake was then convul- 
sing the Balkans. Austria incorporated the provinces of 
Bosnia and Herzegovina, which it had occupied as man- 
76 



HELLAS 

dates in 1878. Bulgaria proclaimed itself a kingdom and 
completely independent of the Sultan. In the cracking 
Ottoman Empire itself a radical nationalistic movement, 
the Young Turks, seized power. Incidentally, the Chief 
of Staff of the Turkish Army which marched from 
Salonica to Istanbul and promoted the Young Turkish 
putsch, was a man named Kemal; and this young officer 
would later on, as dictator of post-World War Turkey, 
destroy Venizelos' short dream of a Greek Empire in 
Asia Minor. 

But this was still 1 909. Venizelos, hero of the victorious 
revolt in Crete, was called to Athens to take over the 
premiership of the Greek mainland. A putsch of the Mili- 
tary League, an organization of non-commissioned offi- 
cers, had forced the dismissal of the former government 
and the appointment of the "Tiger of Crete" as Prime 
Minister. 

Venizelos immediately entrenched himself in power 
by founding a new political party, a progressive party 
which gained the favor of the broad popular masses. In 
the course of time, however, the Liberal Party of Veni- 
zelos went down the same road of bribery, corruption, 
and reaction as did similar parties in many other Balkan 
lands as, for instance, the Radical Party of Pashitch in 
1 Serbia, or the JLiberal Party of the brothers Bratianu in 
Rumania. i 

In 1913, at the end of the Second Balkan War, Veni- 
zelos enjoyed the triumph of seeing his country enlarged 
by newly conquered provinces. Crete was united with 

77 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

the mainland, and so was Southern Epirus, Southern 
Macedonia, and a number of Aegean Islands. 

The World War, which broke out one year later, 
brought about a sharp division in the public opinion of 
Greece. Four-fifths of the population of the Greek main- 
land were for neutrality. The inhabitants of the islands 
were for entering the war on the side of the Allies. Veni- 
zelos came from the islands. He favored immediate 
entrance into the war against the Central Powers. But 
King Constantine, brother-in-law of the Kaiser, was con- 
vinced of the invincibility of the German Army, in which 
he was an honorary field marshal. 

Venizelos was forced to retire. In the autumn of 1916 
he fled from Athens to Salonica, his flight cleverly 
covered by a double with the well-known Venizelos 
beard who for two days showed himself at the windows 
of the villa that was being watched by the police. 

TRIUMPH AND DECLINE OF VENIZELOS 

Salonica was occupied by a Franco-British army, and 
under its protection Venizelos set up a rebel government. 
Pressure of the Western Allies cleared the way for him 
back to Athens. The King fled, and Venizelos marched 
into the capital at the head of a Cretan regiment wearing 
French helmets and carrying British rifles. The blinds of 
most of the houses in Athens were pulled down, as a sign 
of protest. On the corners of the main streets only small 
groups of Venizelists were applauding. 
78 



HELLAS 

Under the premiership of Venizelos, Greece joined the 
Allies. At the peace conference, Venizelos displayed all 
his startling qualities of a half -Oriental diplomat. Count 
Sf orza, former Italian Foreign Minister and well-known 
lecturer and author, describes the shining personality of 
the "Tiger of Crete" thus: "He had the legendary power 
of a charmer, a siren. The Arabs would have seen in him 
the Barraka, the special blessing of Allah that brings luck 
Wilson, intractable Wilson, had a foible for him." And 
Wilson and Lloyd George, charmed by the Cretan and 
annoyed by some Italian demands, gave Turkish Smyrna, 
on the Asiatic coast, to Greece. 

The Turks were just then reorganizing themselves and 
Britain needed a sword in Asia Minor to protect the way 
to Iraq, Egypt, and India against possible Turkish dangers. 
Count Sforza says: "Lloyd George believed that Veni- 
zelos would enable him to go on waging war against the 
Turks with the Greek forces, without using a single 
Tommy. . . . Lloyd George wanted victory, but was 
decided to pay for it only with Greek blood." 

Victory was not won, but Greek blood flowed in 
streams, not only in Asia Minor, but also in Southern 
Russia. In order to get the coveted Asiatic coast, Veni- 
zelos put at the disposal of Clemenceau a Greek division, 
which was sent to Odessa to fight the Soviet regime in 
one of the Franco-British attempts at intervention. 

When the Greek Army was defeated in Smyrna and 
driven into the sea by the Turks under Kemal, Venizelos 
had already been out of power three years, having been, 

19 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

badly defeated in the elections of 1920, The disaster in 
Ask Minor caused a new dethroning; the army took over 
the government and executed six royalist ministers who 
were held responsible for the defeat. On March 25, 1924, 
Greece was again proclaimed a Republic, 

The following years were full of strife: the royalists 
fighting the republicans, and both crushing popular, pro- 
gressive movements. An episodic dictator, Pangalos, 
emerged and submerged; and then, in 1928, Venizelos 
returned to the premiership. His lust for power was un- 
tamed, but gone was his popularity with the little man. 
The "Tiger of Crete" was no longer a rebel. He crushed 
the labor unions, throttled the free press, arrested 1 80,000 
fanners for not paying taxes, deported 30,000 workers 
accused of being Communists to concentration camps on 
the islands. He who in former times had been in daily 
touch with the man in the street, became distrustful, 
secluded, bitter, and vicious, and surrounded his villa with 
heavily armed guards. When he finally left the premier- 
ship in 193 3, after being defeated in an election which he 
had vainly tried to influence by force and bribery, the 
cries of desperate farmers followed him: "Corn, corn; 
we starve!" 

In the following years, the republican democratic 
regime went down the road to totalitarian dictatorship in 
a manner similar to that of other European countries. The 
crushing of the progressive forces on the Left opened the 
way for the fascist powers on the Right. And the same 
British Tories who fostered Hitler's coming to power 
80 ' 



HELLAS 

and entrenchment in power, helped to deliver the Greeks 
to dictatorship. 

In 1935, General Kondylis, one of the leaders of the 
republican government, became the "General Monk'* 
of the monarchist restoration. Under martial law, he held 
a controlled plebiscite on the return of the Kong the 
result being known in advance. From his native Crete, 
whither he had retired in 1933, Venizelos, the old 
"Tiger," angrily observed Athens, where his followers 
were systematically being ousted from the civil service 
and the army. 

In 1936, Venizelist officers attempted a putsch, but 
their former comrade-in-revolt and fellow-republican, 
General Kondylis, crushed the uprising. Venizelos had 
to flee into exile. The dying flames of a revolt in Crete 
illuminated his fall, as the first flames of a previous Cretan 
revolt had greeted his ascension to glory and power. He 
went to France and died there the same year. 

LITTLE MOLTKE AS DICTATOR 

King George II, returning to Athens from his English 
exile, was little concerned over the constitutional regime 
he had sworn to maintain. After the elections of 1935, 
General John Metaxas obtained the King's permission 
to "correct" the voters' will by means of sword and 
bayonet. The rise to dictatorial power of John Metaxas 
was due to the fact that he had an iron fist, that his brainier 
competitors died away in time, and that he had several 

Si 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

times missed the bus of military and political opportuni- 
tiesand thus avoided both defeat and jealous rivalry. 
Stocky, blue-eyed, bespectacled, Metaxas was one of 
those minor dictators who come to play the role of 
Fiihrer because they are super-mediocrities. 

Speaking of Conrad Henlein, the Hitler of the Sudeten 
Germans, a good observer has said: "He has no face of his 
own; hence he is just the right man to be in the spotlight, 
shouting and looking like what the real Fiihrer-makers 
want him to shout and look like." In a certain sense this 
is also true of Hitler, in his beginnings; it is certainly true 
of John Metaxas. He was a good officer energetic, disci- 
plined, skillful, and ruthless. His efficiency, however, was 
never impaired by thoughtf ulness or traces of genius. He 
was educated in Potsdam, the city of Prussian militarism. 
And Potsdam seemed to be the proper place for his 
abilities and inclinations. So evident were his Prussian 
attitudes and preferences, that he was given the nickname 
of "Little Moltke," after General Field Marshal Helmut 
von Moltke, Chief of the great General Staff of the Bis- 
marck era. 

In the war against the Turks, from 1920^1923, Gen- 
eral John Metaxas never had an opportunity to distin- 
guish himself particularly. What then seemed to be a 
misfortune, however, turned out to have been good luck, 
for he was not in the limelight of defeat. In any case, only 
ministers, not generals, were executed as responsible for 
the military catastrophe in Asia Minor and defeated gen- 
erals took over the government after the lost war. This 
82 



HELLAS 

apparently grotesque situation is not at all singular or 
purely Greek. Hindenburg in Germany and MacMahon 
and Petain in France rose to civil power as losers of wars. 

General Metaxas was not yet among those who, in 
generals' uniforms, sat down in ministerial chairs. It was 
the time of the republic, and he was a monarchist; so he 
had to wait. After some years, when the republic had slid 
down towards reaction and monarchy, Metaxas joined 
the Cabinet as Minister without Portfolio and without 
physiognomy. 

His debut as leader of a new party, the "Royalist 
Union," was a complete failure. In the parliamentary 
elections of June 1935, this party won only seven seats 
out of three hundred. These elections created a peculiar 
situation: Venizelists and royalists had won the same 
number of seats, and the fifteen Communist deputies held 
the balance of power. But the Communists, like the Veni- 
zelists, were in opposition to the government. 

In this uneasy situation, King George, forgetful of his 
British democratic education or perhaps thinking only 
of the methods of British rulers in countries east of Eng- 
landchose the Prussian-minded little general with the 
iron fist and the small popular support to resolve the par- 
liamentary draw in behalf of the Crown. In the back of 
his royal mind, George evidently had the idea of "gra- 
ciously 57 dismissing the general when the latter had done 
the necessary cleaning up of the fifteen elected Com- 
munist deputies and some scores of liberals. George had 
practiced this method once before, when he had "giate- 

83 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

fully" dismissed General Kondylis, who had brought him 
back to Greece from exile. But with Metaxas the plan, if 
it was intended, went wrong. The King found himself 
in the situation of the sorcerer's apprentice in Goethe's 
poem: the broom, which he had made to live, became 
independent and overpowered its master. 

On August 4, 1 93 6, when George II received his Prime 
Minister in audience and asked for the latest reports, 
"Little Moltke," somewhat pale, and gazing stiffly at the 
ceiling, put a royal decree, ready to be signed, before His 
Majesty. The bewildered King read in it that he had 
given his Prime Minister permission to abolish parliament, 
to arrest all suspect persons, to establish permanent martial 
law and a vigorous censorship of the press, and to lead 
the Government along totalitarian lines, that is, the King 
was to have the same "power over the government" as 
Victor Emmanuel in II Duce's Italy. 

"No," said George, and pushed aside the pen which 
"Little Moltke" had proffered him. 

"Oh, yes," answered "Little Moltke," with a peculiar 
grin, "Your Majesty will kindly consider that the decree 
has already been set in print, and that the first measures 
under the decree have already been taken." 

He made a gesture out of the window. Troops with 
fixed bayonets had surrounded the palace. The King 
signed. 

In his first manifesto, General Metaxas summarized his 
aims as follows: "The Greek press as well as the Greeks 
will have to abide by national discipline. For the time 
S4 



HELLAS 

being there is no question of new elections being held. 
Those of you who have in the past belonged to parties, 
are now under the obligation of forgetting them utterly. 
There are no more parties in Greece. The government is 
stable and permanent, and will apply the existing system 
until it has achieved a complete re-establishment of Greek 
society." 

Concentration camps were set up, wages cut, and a 
Greek version of the German organization, "Strength 
through Joy," was created. 

A report of the British Royal Institute of International 
Affairs immediately before the outbreak of the present 
war says: 

He has effectively oppressed all freedom and established 
a strict censorship. As examples may be cited the suppression 
of the local government; the abolition of the chair of con- 
stitutional law in Athens University; refusal to allow public 
performance of Antigone unless the text is cut, or the read- 
ing in schools of Thucydides' version of Pericles' funeral 
oration, on the grounds that it is a subversive hymn to 
democracy. . . . His military training in Germany, and his 
activities during the Great War, would, in themselves, tend 
to indicate that he has pro-German sympathies, and his pref- 
erence for efficiency rather than liberty is certainly a Ger- 
man characteristic. 

The report ends with the words: "It is essential to re- 
member that it is not the memory of 'Lordos Byron' 
which keeps or may keep Greece faithful to Great Britain. 
British naval supremacy in the Mediterranean, and the 

85 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

British market for Greek tobacco are factors likely to 
weigh more heavily with a dictator."^ 

Battleships, market possibilities, and a few other threats 
and presents finally did make Metaxas switch his sym- 
pathies. 

BATTLESHIPS AND MARKETS 

Strange as it may seem though it will not seem too 
strange to the student of British foreign policy in the last 
decade Metaxas, in spite of his Hitlerian leanings, had 
the support of the Chamberlain-Halifax-Hoare group 
which, in the days before Munich, repeated Hitler's 
slogan of Germany's right to Lebensraum in Eastern 
and Southeastern Europe. And after "Little Moltke" 
joined Britain, little was heard in the great world press of 
his dictatorial policies, although his regime continued 
unchanged. Correspondents who had formerly used the 
adjectives "fox-faced and ruthless" now suddenly began 
to describe him as "the fatherly-looking ally of democ- 
racy/' 

Metaxas died in the first stage of the war with Italy. 
The progressive forces of Greece had vainly demanded 
a real national unity based on the granting of internal 
liberty. The considerable successes won in the first 
months of the war with Italy were due, to a great extent, 
to the unwillingness of the Italian people to fight. But 
under the onslaught of the Nazi juggernaut the internal 
86 



HELLAS 

weaknesses caused by the sins of the fascist regime of 
Metaxas-Koritzis came to the surface* 

The fact, noted by all foreign observers, that the popu- 
lation of Athens turned out in unexpected numbers to 
watch the German Army being reviewed by General 
Field Marshal von List on May 3, 1941; that it gave the 
parading Nazi regiments a reception quite different from 
the ones they had received in the empty avenues of War- 
saw, Brussels, and Paris; together with the absence of any 
news of guerrilla fighting in the mountains of Epirus and 
the Peloponnesus; have shown that the destruction of in- 
ternal freedom and the savage persecution of anti-fascist 
forces on the part of Greek ruling circles had struck at 
the very roots of the powers of resistance and of inde- 
pendent national life. 

In the last days of May 1941, some news of the Greek 
capitulation and the setting-up of a Nazi-sponsored Gov- 
ernment under General Tsalakoglou trickled through the 
censorships of both belligerents. It is now clear that Gen- 
eral Tsalakoglou twice dismissed from the Greek army, 
once during the Balkan wars for a "commercial affair" 
and again in the Greco-Turkish War of 1922 for deser- 
tionhad been in close contact with the German Minis- 
ter, Prince Erbach, while the Greek-Italian fighting 
was in progress. Although Metaxas, Koritzis, and King 
George knew of General Tsalakoglou's numerous visits 
to the Nazi Legation, no step to forestall the activity of 
the "Gray General" was taken. Unmolested, he prepared 

8 7 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

the surrender and the establishment of a Greek Quisling 
regime. 

But, along with the Greek Quislings, there are also, 
hidden underground, the forces of a New Greece, which 
are sure to rise when the "big upheaval of the Balkans" 
the upheaval of peoples rather than of army groups and 
generals begins. 



88 



CHAPTER 7 



Bulgaria: BLACK SEA, BLUE 

SEA. AND RED RIVER 



"Roar, Maritza River, red 'with blood; 
Cry, t wldo F w, deeply struck" 

BULGARIAN NATIONAL ANTHEM 



Bulgar" comes from "Bolagalar," a name which was 
given to the conquered Slavic inhabitants of the Cen- 
tral Balkans by their conquerors, a Mongolian horde akin 
to the Huns, Finns, and Turks. They took over the land, 
but they also took over the language of the defeated 
Slavs, and themselves became "Bolagalars" which means 
"plowmen." 

Plowmen, peasants, still are eighty-two out of every 
hundred Bulgarians; with only ten employed in indus- 
try, commerce, and transportation. The 82 percent of 
the population that is peasant gives Bulgaria its rural 
face; but this vast majority earns only 40 percent of the 

y* 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

national income. Everywhere in the Balkans the peasant 
is very poor; here, however, the average size of peasant 
holding is smaller than in the neighboring countries, and 
it has been steadily decreasing through the last decades. 
In 1900 it was still 25 acres; in 1926, only 15. Ten years 
later 12; with nearly half of all holdings less than this 
size, and only a small number of very big estates. 1 

By contrast with other countries of Southeastern 
Europe for instance, Rumania, Hungary, and part of 
Yugoslavia and Greece the agrarian problem, of Bul- 
garia is not a question of breaking up large estates. On 
the contrary, it is the atomization of the land that is the 
source of peasant misery. The continual decrease in the 
size of farm holdings, mentioned above, lowers the stand- 
ard of living, creates an ever-growing number of land- 
less peasants, and impedes the acquirement of mechanized 
equipment for agriculture. 

PEASANT POVERTY AND REBELLION 

Most of the farmers work with extraordinarily rudi- 
mentary tools. Wooden plows are by far more numer- 
ous than iron ones, and the majority of the Bulgarian 
peasants, being without horses or oxen, have to draw 

1 Of the 39,800 square miles of Bulgaria, only 13,900, or 35 percent is 
arable land. The population amounts to 6,220,000, of which 80 percent are 
Bulgarian, 10 percent Turkish, 2 percent Gypsies, 1 1 A percent Rumanian, 
and the rest Germans, Tatars, Pomaks (Islamized Bulgars), Tsintsars 
or Aruniuns (Macedo-Rumanians), and "Gagaus" (Greek Orthodox 
Turks). 

9* 



BULGARIA 

their plows themselves. An official census, taken in 1936, 
listed 450,700 wooden plows, 253,900 iron plows, but 
only 100 seeding machines for the entire country. 

Illiteracy in 1880 amounted to 97.7 percent. In 1930, 
48 percent of the population were still illiterate. 

Peasant poverty is the mother of rebellion and "noble 
robbery." The history of Bulgaria is full of uprisings; 
and the extremely rich literature of folk songs and epics 
deals almost entirely with the adventures of the Hay- 
duks, who fought the Turks, as well as their subservient 
Greek merchants and wealthy Bulgarian squires, the 
Phanariotes and Torbadsis. 

My mother is the Pirin Mountain; 
My wife is my slender rifle; 
The sword is my sister; 
And the bullets are my children. 
Hey! How we chase the Turk, 
The Torbadsi, and the Phanariot; 
The fat belly and the fat purse. 

The Hayduks became, for a time, the expression of 
Bulgarian national aspirations for liberty and inde- 
pendence. They imposed severe laws and a disciplined 
organization upon themselves. The young peasant who 
fled into the mountains and joined a Hayduk group 
swore to be abstemious, loyal, and gallant; to recognize 
the community of all property won by the group; and 
to obey the orders of the group leader, the Voivod, who 
was elected by the men in order to be the "eye and the 
brain of the band." 

93 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

HISTORICAL NON-EXISTENCE AND 
NATIONAL RENAISSANCE 

Twice in history there has been a Greater Bulgarian 
Empire. At the end of the ninth century Tsar Simeon 
ruled over an empire which included Serbia, Thrace, 
Macedonia, Albania, Wallachia, and parts of Hungary. 
It reached from the shores of the Adriatic to the Black 
Sea, and from the Hungarian plain to the waters of 
Salonica. And, in the first half of the thirteenth century, 
a second Bulgarian Empire comprised Bulgaria, Serbia, 
and Albania. 

Turkish conquest meant the beginning of a period of 
historical non-existence for the Bulgars, as for other 
Balkan Slavs. The Bulgars were the last to recover their in- 
dependence from the Turks, but they were the first to re- 
store their language and their national life. The so-called 
Bulgarian Renaissance started in 1762, when a Bulgarian 
monk named Paissy wrote a history of his people in 
Greece. In 1 806, the first book in Bulgarian was printed 
in Rumania. In 1833 the Bulgars already had a high 
school; whereas the Serbs, who were then partly inde- 
pendent, had no schools of their own. 

A national revolution against the Sultan took place in 
1876, only to be drowned in rivers of blood. It was then 
that the Maritza became the "Red River" of the folk song 
that later became the national anthem. Western Europe 
was horrified. Gladstone cried out in the House of Com- 
94 



BULGARIA 

mons for the punishment of the "terrible Turk and his 
ferocious Bashi-Bazouks." (The latter were a mixed 
Asiatic group of excellent horsemen in the service of the 
Sultan.) A conference of the Great Powers proposed the 
establishment of two autonomous Bulgarian provinces 
under Christian governors. The Sultan rejected the pro- 
posal, and a Russo-Turkish war followed* 

The Peace of San Stefano, which closed this war, 
created the large principality of Bulgaria, much larger 
than the kingdom of today. This, however, aroused the 
fear and anger of Austria, Britain, and Germany, none of 
which desired to see "the Tsar's lobby in the Balkans" be- 
come too big. So the Berlin Congress of 1878 created two 
Bulgarian areas: the autonomous principality of Bulgaria, 
with a Christian prince nominally under the overlordship 
of the Sultan; and the Turkish province of East Rumelia, 
under a Christian governor. 

The first Prince of the autonomous part was of German 
descent and Russian citizenship. In the eyes of the Tsar 
he was merely a Russian Governor of an outlying posses- 
sion. When Prince Alexander and his Bulgarian Ministers 
became too independent, the Tsar had him kidnapped and 
brought to Russia. This was in 1 886, after a successful re- 
volt in East Rumelia and the incorporation of this 
province into the autonomous Bulgarian State, and also 
after a short war with Serbia, which, under Austrian in- 
stigation, had sought to "restore the equilibrium of the 
Balkans." Alexander abdicated, on the fatherly advice of 

95 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

the Tsar; and a new prince became the ruler of Bulgaria- 
Ferdinand of Coburg, a brother of Leopold, the merchant 
king of Belgium. In 1908, Prince Ferdinand proclaimed 
the full independence of Bulgaria, and promoted himself 
to King. 

From 1912 to 1919, the country was almost continu- 
ously in a state of war. First, with Serbia and Greece as 
allies, it fought against Turkey. Then it had to fight a war 
over the spoils with its former allies. Defeated, it joined 
the Central. Powers in the First World War in order to 
take revenge upon its neighbors. 

In spite of many victories, Bulgaria was, at the end of 
this war period, on the losing side. In 1 9 1 3 it had lost most 
of Macedonia and Dobrudja. In 1919 it was thrown back 
from the Aegean, the Blue Sea to which it had always 
sought an outlet. Four hundred thousand of her sons 
had been killed and wounded an enormous figure for a 
nation of some six millions. A million Bulgarians were cut 
off from their homeland by the peace treaty of Neuilly. 
A reparations burden of two and a half billion gold francs 
was forced on the shoulders of a country already ruined 
by three wars. 

As in Germany and Hungary, so in Bulgaria the 
injustice of the peace fed fuel to the revisionist move- 
ment. In Bulgaria this movement was not less reactionary 
than elsewhere, and its leaders eventually had their hand 
in the decision of the Bulgarian Government in 1941 to 
side with Nazi Germany. 



BULGARIA 
BULGARIAN BOURBON 

The debacle of 1919 aroused deep popular resentment. 
All politicians who had helped to bring Bulgaria into the 
catastrophe were discredited. Crafty, sly King Ferdi- 
nand, who throughout had pulled the strings of Bul- 
garian politics, was forced to abdicate. His son Boris sat 
on a shaky throne. The fact that he was the only de- 
scendant of a defeated dynasty who had kept his throne 
after the World War, made Boris doubly cautious. 

From his father Boris had inherited a good deal of as- 
tuteness and perseverance. Bald, with the long hooked 
Bourbon nose that the caricaturists of his father had made 
known throughout the world, Bang Boris knew the art 
of waiting in the background for the opportune moment. 
He was an expert hand-shaker and a good quiet listener. 
His blue, appealing eyes had a kind of doe-like softness, 
though there was a hard glint of suspicion in the back of 
them; they were always aware of the possibilities of being 
murdered, but also quickly grasped the slightest chance to 
do away with foes. He cemented his unstable throne with 
blood and bones, and sat there quite firmly giving the 
world yet another example of the thesis that, though it 
may be uncomfortable to sit on bayonets, it is feasible 
for quite a long time. 

Boris's reign has been quite in character with Bulgaria's 
stormy political history. He has himself engineered two 
putsches so far. Twice in one decade fascism has taken 

91 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

power. For many years IMRO ruled whole provinces by 
terror. 

Corruption in office has been widespread: of the 
eighty-nine Cabinet ministers in office during the period 
from 1878 to 1926, precisely half have been convicted of 
"dishonest acts." The power to dissolve parliament has 
been much abused by the Crown: of twenty-one parlia- 
ments, sixteen have been dissolved before the expiration 
of their term. Of thirty-seven governments, only four 
have been formed along parliamentary majority lines. 
Political machines and parliamentary seats have been 
largely monopolized by a small group of the urban popu- 
lation. In a country that is 82 percent peasant, the social 
structure of parliament in 193 1 was in the following per- 
centages: lawyers, 38; bankers, 10; publishers and jour- 
nalists, 6; peasants, 22; and workers, 10. The democratic 
and liberal parties have degenerated, and very quickly 
become the tools of Tsarist or Austrian political intrigue. 
The number of civil service employees increased from 
3 6,000 in 1 908, to 140,000 in 1 934 with most of the posts 
given as political rewards. 

The Agrarian League and the "Narrow Socialists" (a 
Left Socialist party, split from the old Social-Democratic 
Party, which continued as the "Broad Socialists" 1 ) were 
the only political organizations that opposed Bulgarian 
participation in the war on the side of the Hapsburgs and 
the Hohenzollerns. 

1 Out of the "Narrow Socialists" later developed the Communist Party, 
and still later the Workers' Party, of Bulgaria. 



BULGARIA 
STAMBOLISKI 

In 1919 the Agrarian League was called to power. Alex- 
ander Stamboliski, its leader, represented Bulgaria at 
the peace conference, and after his return became Prime 
Minister. Stamboliski was another of the colorful Balkan 
peasant leaders with an enormous mass appeal. The son of 
a poor peasant, of Herculean stature, broad-shouldered, 
with dark curly hair and a thick mustache he almost 
looked like a movie villain, but he was loved and vener- 
ated by the peasants who knew that he was blood of their 
blood. In his youth he had borrowed money from his 
schoolteacher she later became his wife in order to go 
to Germany to study agriculture. He became editor of 
the first Bulgarian peasant newspaper, and, in 1898, he 
founded the Agrarian League. He was a peasant philos- 
opher, and explained most political problems in terms of 
the virtues of the countryside as against the vices of the 
town. He even went so far as to praise "the wholesome 
ignorance of the peasant," in contrast to the "rotten intel- 
ligence of the law makers." His agrarian movement was, 
in essence, a protest against the catastrophes which the 
big-town upper-class leadership had brought upon the 
country. Feared by the Government because of his thun- 
dering oratorical gifts, he was sentenced to death in 191 5 
for having attacked the King for war-mongering. When 
his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, 
he wrote the King: "I will survive, but you will lose the 
throne." 

99 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

As Prime Minister, Stamboliski gave Bulgaria the only 
sweeping agrarian reform of all the Balkan countries. He 
had 125,000 acres of private land, 375,000 acres of gov- 
ernment land, and 70,000 acres of community and church 
land expropriated, and 90 percent of it broken up into 
parcels and given to landless peasants. This aroused the 
bitter ire of all the rich reactionaries. 

Starnboliski's foreign policy aimed at friendly relations 
with all Balkan countries, and, in the end, the establish- 
ment of a Balkan Federation. It won him more hatred 
from the side of nationalistic and fascist-minded elements. 

In the end King Boris conspired with the Military 
League, with Professor Tsankoff , the leader of a newly 
formed fascist movement, and with the chieftains of 
IMRO; a putsch was staged; and Stamboliski was mur- 
dered. Professor Tsankoff, a Social-Democrat turned 
fascist, became the head of a government which abolished 
the agrarian reforms, and killed about ten thousand peas- 
ants and workers without trial. From then on, more or 
less fascist-minded governments upheld the rule of a small 
minority over an oppressed majority of the people. Mar- 
tial law became one of the main means of government. 

OUTRAGE AND REPRESSION 

From time to time, savage outbursts of terror have 
flooded the country with blood. In 1925, a bomb ex- 
ploded in the Charles Cathedral of Sofia during the state 
funeral of General Georghieff . The King and the Gov- 
100 



BULGARIA 

eminent were present. They were unhurt, but 150 people 
were killed under the ruins of the edifice. It was never 
learned who planted the bomb, but it has been quite defi- 
nitely established that an IMRO faction, feuding with the 
group that was connected with the Government, had its 
finger in the aff air. The explosion unleashed furious perse- 
cution of the opposition, the Agrarians, the Communists, 
the progressive students, and thousands of other innocent 
people suspected of being "not loyal-minded." For five 
days the railroads stopped running and telephone and mail 
service ceased, while bands of officers and detachments of 
the White Russian Wrangel Army, which had found 
asylum in Bulgaria, killed and went about burning whole 
villages. Courts-martial sentenced people on such a mass 
scale that there were not enough executioners to go 
around; so Gypsies were arrested for loitering and forced 
to serve as auxiliary executioners. 

But despite the severest repression, the population has 
continued to make its true feelings evident. In 1919 the 
'Agrarians and Communists had polled 5 1 percent of all 
votes; in 1920 they had achieved 70 percent; and in 1923, 
74 percent. Then the putsch of the "Golden Few" had 
intervened, but in 1932, after nine years of terror, the 
Communists won 1 9 seats out of 3 5 in the Sofia communal 
elections; and in 1933, in spite of the handicaps of a 
fraudulent election, the Agrarians and the Workers' 
Party (in which the Communists were leading) polled 47 
percent of the total vote. 

"Marxism, has survived," says Professor Joseph 

101 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

Roucek, of New York University, in a survey of Bul- 
garian politics. "Incidently, it was a Bulgarian Communist 
leader, DimitrofF, who took first honors at the Reichstag 
fire trial, by his dramatic defiance of blustering triumvir 
Goering." And the Manchester Guardian, reporting the 
elections of 1932, remarked: "In 1923, the Bulgarian 
Communists were numbered about 30,000, and gained a 
vote of 200,000 about one-fifth of the electorate. Nine 
years later, the Workers' Party emerges from an unprece- 
dented repression with a vote of 3 00,000." 

Of course, the "voice of the people" was duly cor- 
rected by government measures. In 1934 a fascist group, 
Zveno, together with the Military League, staged a putsch 
and set up a fascist government. The Military League was 
led by Colonel Veltcheff , who had had an active part in 
the organization of the coup of 1923 and the killing of 
Alexander Stamboliski. His following was composed 
mostly of disgruntled officers, the army having been cut 
down by the regulations of the peace treaties and the eco- 
nomic crisis. Zveno was a civilian group, including in its 
ranks a number of former ministers, industrialists, and 
politicians out of office. 

The two bodies had been collaborating closely for 
some time. The knowledge that Professor TsankofF, the 
man of 1923, was planning a new attempt to seize power, 
convinced Colonel VeltchefF and his allies of Zveno that 
the time was ripe to strike. On May 19, 1934, Sofia and 
the principal towns of the country were occupied during 
the night by groups of officers and soldiers. A military 

70-2 



BULGARIA 

dictatorship was installed, and the King was confronted 
with a fait accompli. His powers were considerably re- 
stricted, and Colonel Veltcheff, taking the post of "ad- 
visor" to the King, planned to play the role of Marshal 
Pilsudski, who, while remaining outside the Presidential 
Palace, actually ran Poland for many years. 

But King Boris, cool, patient, and full of guile, finally 
outwitted the leader of the Military League. He suc- 
ceeded in splitting the supporters of the men who had 
engineered the coup, winning over a decisive part of the 
officers 5 corps. In January 1935 Colonel Veltcheff was 
forced to resign from the Military League, and his friend 
Georghieif had to retreat from the Cabinet. Veltcheif 
was first advised to go abroad, but then he was arrested 
and tried on charges of high treason and conspiracy. He 
was sentenced to death, but the sentence was kter com- 
muted to life imprisonment. 

ROYAL DICTATOR 

On April 21, 1935, King Boris issued a manifesto pro- 
claiming a royal dictatorship. But the royal dictator of 
Bulgaria was no happier in his attempts to solve the eco- 
nomic and social crisis of his country than had been 
his fellow Kong-Dictators Alexander of Yugoslavia and 
Carol of Rumania. Authoritarian Cabinets changed even 
more rapidly than was the case in former non-authori- 
tarian times. 

Fear and distrust of the popular masses led the royal 

103 



* THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

dictatorship to reject the popular demand for an anti- 
Axis policy and an alliance with the Soviet Union. At the 
same time, the resurgence of German imperialism and the 
British-French policy of appeasement began to over- 
shadow the life of Bulgaria, as of all the other Balkan 
countries. 

In former times Bulgarian policies were strongly influ- 
enced by the control of British, Dutch, and French capi- 
tal through state loans and investments. After World 
War I, although Bulgaria had been on the side of the Cen- 
tral Powers, British bankers invested heavily in the recon- 
struction of the country. Foreign capital controlled 48 
percent of the thousand biggest Bulgarian corporations. 

The German economic conquest of Bulgaria began in 
1934. It did not change the Dutch, French, Belgian, and 
British control of Bulgarian banks and industries; but 
Germany became the biggest buyer of Bulgarian exports, 
and the biggest seller to Bulgaria. By 1938 Germany was 
taking 67 percent of Bulgarian exports, while its share in 
Bulgarian imports amounted to 66 percent. 

Nazi economic pressure and propaganda, coupled with 
the vision of a Greater Bulgaria established by the recon- 
quest of lost Macedonian territories, paved the way for 
Bulgaria into the Axis. Once more, a Bulgarian king and 
government embarked on the Berlin-Baghdad expedition 
of German imperialism. 



104 




SSSMM I-.*.*! 

ssj^jgg. 8 ;;?? 



CHAPTER 8 



Rumania: BOYARS AND BAK- 
SHEESH 

"If the Boyar could have laid his hand on the sun, he 
would have seized it, and he would have sold to the 
peasant, -for money, the light and the heat of God" 

FROM THE MINUTES OF THE PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES 
ON THE FAILURE OF THE AGRARIAN REFORM INT 
RUMANIA 



One of my friends, a profound student of Balkan 
political mysteries, used to say, when asked about 
the state of Rumanian public aff aks: 

"Look at Bucharest, and you will know all about it. Go 
down the pompous Calea Victoriei, the Avenue of Vic- 
tory, with its glamorous shops and crowded cafes just 
a little bit more obtrusive and glaring than their proto- 
types on the Champs Elysees in Parisglance at those 
perfumed and pomaded officers of the Royal Guard, in 
corseted tunics and with made up cheeks and lips (yes, 

/oy 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

my friend, you can watch them pull their lipsticks and 
powder boxes out of their pockets and renew their faded 
beauty); follow the procession of luxurious cars with 
their freight of richly dressed society women; admire, for 
a while, the display of jewels and decorations at the 
entrance of the opera house; or listen to the long tides of 
the guests in the salons of famous Cafe Capsa; and then 
take a turn to the left or to the right, and you will find 
yourself, after walking a few minutes, in one of those 
filthy, narrow, little streets, full of abject misery. And, 
after another ten minutes, you may stumble over the 
corpse of a dead dog or even a horse lying in full de- 
composition in the midst of the road; which means that 
it has been lying there for several days just around the 
corner from the heart of 'Little Paris.' 

"Yes, my friend, just look at this city of splendor * and 
scandal; this perfumed ladies' boudoir on a dung hill; and 
you will have a fairly good idea of what administration 
and public life look like in a country run by the laziest, 
most corrupt, most brutal, and least efficient upper class 
and bureaucracy of the whole peninsula and you know 
superlatives like these mean something in the Balkans." 

ORIGINS 

The story of the origins' of the Rumanian race and lan- 
guage also has its pompous main street and its less spar- 

1 As a matter of fact, "Bucharest" means "City of Joy," from the Turkish 
word Bukor* 

IOS 



RUMANIA 

kling slum roads. The Avenue of Victory in this sphere is 
the official version of "Roman ancestry" profusely dis- 
played in all textbooks and patriotic novels. And, indeed, 
inscriptions carved in the milestones of the ancient mili- 
tary roads along the Danube River and up to the Carpa- 
thian Mountains do declare that, at the time of Emperor 
Trajan, Roman legions conquered and colonized the 
province of Dacia-Moldavia, the Wallachia and Tran- 
sylvania of today. Although, two centuries later, around 
A.D. *e$^the Roman frontier was withdrawn to the 
Danube, and the country north of the river was flooded 
by Hunnish, Gothic, Magyar, Tatar, Avar, and Slavic 
tribes, the Rumania upper crust likes to believe that the 
Roman and Dacian populations stayed there and emerged 
again when the temporary flood of barbarian conquerors 
ebbed away. 

The Hungarian official historians, of course, deny this 
story, stating that the Rumanians are a mixture of Slavic 
and Mongolian tribes, having nothing in common with 
the ancient Roman-Dacian population. This conflict of 
historical theses is not a purely academic matter. Ruma- 
nian and Hungarian territorial claims are each backed by 
one of these opposing theories. The Rumanians base their 
title to Transylvania (acquired from Hungary in 1919, 
and in great part lost again in 1 940) on the historical fact 
of their being the original inhabitants of that province. 
The Hungarian revisionists, on the contrary, declare that 
"historical right" is on their side because the original in- 
habitants of Transylvania were a nomadic people, akin to 

109 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

the Magyars. The Rumanians, according to this version, 
came to Transylvania only in the course of the fourteenth 
and fifteenth centuries, when they were driven out of 
their original homeland in Wallachia and Moldavia by 
greedy Turks and Greeks. They came as immigrants, and 
were hospitably received by the Hungarian natives who 
had lost much blood in their wars against the Crescent 
and therefore welcomed Christian immigration. The un- 
grateful descendants t>f those Rumanian immigrants then 
proceeded to grab the land that had always belonged to 
the thousand-year-old crown of Hungary. 

Weighed by an unbiased mind, neither of these two 
theories is more than 50 percent correct, the truth being, 
evidently, that the Rumanians are descended from a mix- 
ture between the ancient Roman-Dacian population and 
their successive Slavic, Mongolian, and Turkish con- 
querors. As a matter of fact the modern Rumanian lan- 
guage has no more Latin ingredients than does the English 
of our days, the proportion between Latin and Slavonic 
parts being two to three. Until about 1850 the Rumanians 
used the Cyrillic alphabet, like the Serbs, Bulgarians, and 
Russians. The introduction of the Latin alphabet in the 
second half of the last century was due to the attempts of 
Austrian and Roman Catholic influences to counteract 
the cultural weight of Slavic, Greek Orthodox Russia. 

But whatever their origin, the Rumanians of Transyl- 
vania became, as time went on, the most numerous ele- 
ment of the population. Treated none too well by their 
Hungarian rulers, they strove for liberation and union 
no 



RUMANIA 

with their brothers across the frontier in Rumania. There, 
the wishes of the "unredeemed parts of the nation" met 
with the kindred dream of a Greater Rumania, of "Ro- 
mania Mare." 



ROMANIA MARE 

Romania Mare became a reality after World War L The 
old kingdom of only 53,000 square miles was then more 
than doubled by the conquest and annexation of Transyl- 
vania (from Hungary), Bukovina (from Austria), and 
Bessarabia (from Russia). With its 1 14,000 square miles 
equaling the size of Italy, Greater Rumania became the 
largest of the Balkan States, not only uniting within its 
boundaries all Rumanians, but also having in its turn to 
keep a sharp watch on strong national minorities, which 
became one source of continual trouble. Of the, roughly, 
20,000,000 inhabitants, no more than 13,500,000 were 
Rumanian, the rest being composed of strong minorities 
of Hungarians, Ukrainians, Russians, Jews, Germans, 
and Bulgarians. 

This was not the only big trouble of Greater Rumania. 
With the richest soil in Southeastern Europe; with 
precious stocks of oil, timber, salt, and coal; with gold and 
silver mines; with extensive fisheries and bigger industries 
than any other Balkan country, the bulk of Rumania's 
people is stricken by the most cruel misery. The peasants 
80 percent of the population might all be classified ac- 
cording to the old French saying: "There are three 

in 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

classes of peasants: the poor, the very poor, and the ex- 
ceedingly poor," 

Forty percent of the land, the best arable soil, is in the 
hands of the Boyars, the owners of vast estates. The 
agrarian reform of 1 92 1 took place, to a large extent, only 
on paper. Even the peasants who received parcels from 
broken-up estates remained poverty-stricken, for they 
had no money with which to buy seeds, tools, or fertilizer* 
"Thirty-seven percent of the peasant families do not 
possess draft animals; 47 percent do not even have sheep; 
and more than half are completely illiterate," reads a com- 
plaint of the National Peasant Party of Rumania. "The 
richest soil in Europe produces only one-third as much as 
does Denmark's less fertile land." 

Forced to borrow money, if not for machinery and 
cattle, then for taxes, the Rumanian peasant fell into the 
clutches of as merciless a gang of usurers as ever lived. 
Nowhere in the world is the per capita debt of farmers so 
high as in Rumania. The banks for agricultural credit, and 
private bankers and money lenders, extort 18 to 55 per- 
cent in interest from loans with an official rate of only 
9 percent fixed by law* 

V. Potirca, a member of the Rumanian Lower Cham- 
ber, testified under oath before a parliamentary investigat- 
ing committee that a banker in the town of Tutov in 
1926 earned a profit of 1 5,000,000 lei on a capital of only 
19,000,000. In 1927 this gentleman had a less successful 
business year: his earnings amounted to only 1 6,000,000 
lei on a capital of 20,000,000. 
112 



RUMANIA 

The newspaper Dimineata, one of the biggest in the 
country, wrote in 1935 (and the censor let it pass) : u ln 
every village, and on every farm, horrible and lamentable 
scenes go on when the tax collector comes, or when cattle, 
are impounded or land is taken away from farmers who 
cannot pay their debts. The usurers have ruined whole 
villages during the last few years. Suicides are common in 
all rural districts." And the magazine Mine at about the 
same time published an article about the district of Dolja, 
where a usurer named Vuza-Tudor kept seventy villages 
in serf -like dependency: "He extorts 60 to 120 percent 
interest. There are peasants who, having borrowed 7000 
to 9000 lei from him, have already paid 70,000 to 90,000 
lei back, without having cleared their debts." 

Taxes are collected with utmost severity. Where the 
indebted peasant cannot borrow any more money with 
which to pay his taxes, he is inexorably forced to leave his 
soil. In 1936, according to official figures, 16,000 peasants 
had to part with their land because of outstanding taxes 
alone. In 1937, 1 1,000 peasants met the same fate. In the 
decade between 1927 and 1937, more than 200,000 small 
peasant proprietors had akeady been made landless by 
tax foreclosures. 

Only a portion of the landless peasantry find jobs in 
the oil fields and factories. The steady stream of the newly 
dispossessed, looking for work at any price, coupled with 
the complete absence of labor legislation and a ruthless 
suppression of labor organizations, keeps the standard of 
living of the industrial population on a level only slightly 

"3 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

higher than the peasant misery. Industrial wages in 
Rumania were, for instance, only 3 8 percent of the aver- 
age wage paid in neighboring Czechoslovakia, and 
amounted to 57 percent of the average Polish wage. 

Strikes, peasant uprisings, and even the mere attempt 
to organize independent labor unions have been sup- 
pressed with a ferocity which has made the name of the 
secret policethe Siguranza infamous throughout the 
Balkans. The prisons of Doftana and Illava, the "Bastilles 
of Rumania," throw a heavy shadow over the entire 
population. "I have never heard these names pronounced 
without hatred and fear," a French diplomat wrote in his 
memoirs, published anonymously in Paris shortly before 
the outbreak of the present war. 

In striking contrast to the wretched vegetative exis- 
tence of the millions in the lower depths, is the life of the 
happy few: the Boyars, the wealthy urban population, 
and higher bureaucracy* The Grand Boyars, who under 
Turkish rule had had the rights of life and death over their 
subjects, still deal with the peasant as if he were a serf. 

ADMINISTRATION BY BAKSHEESH 

"To govern means to become rich." That is the most 
common maxim of the ruling apparatus. To this day the 
bureaucracy has retained the manners and the spirit of 
the former Turkish rulers. Its lower ranks are so badly 
underpaid that bribery is universal. " 'Baksheesh,' the 
Turkish word for 'tip,' is still the magic key that opens 
114 



RUMANIA 

office doors," states one student of Rumanian history and 
society. 

This regime of baksheesh and bribery is not hidden; it 
operates quite openly. I well remember my first personal 
encounter with it. I was on my first trip from Bucharest 
to the seashore, and was sitting in a compartment of a 
railroad car with some Rumanian merchants and sales- 
men. One of them was telling a "true story." 

"In the town of Constanza is a statue of the ancient 
Roman poet Ovid, who wrote his most famous odes while 
living there in exile. A clever salesman who had a photo 
of this statue, showed it to the peasants of a village near 
Silistria who wanted to put up a monument commemorat- 
ing the day of the birth of Romania Mare. 

"The salesman said he was a sculptor, and that this, his 
latest work, was being currently exhibited for sale on the 
market place in Constanza. The mayor and the police 
magistrate of the village, having been bribed by the sales- 
man, recommended that the peasants buy the exhibited 
work. They gave the salesman ten thousand lei, which he 
divided in three parts: one for the mayor, one for the 
police magistrate, and the third for himself. 

"When the peasants came to Constanza with their carts 
and tried to carry off the statue, they were arrested. They 
had to pay two thousand lei baksheesh to be allowed to 
get away." 

All the passengers in the compartment laughed, evi- 
dently considering the story an excellently edifying one. 
Not a single one doubted its authenticity. I had not yet 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

gotten over my astonishment, when the conductor came 
in to ask for our tickets. I was the only one who had a 
ticket. Everyone else gave him baksheesh. 

"The poor conductor has to live/' was the explanation 
they gave. "The government doesn't pay him his salary, 
so he must earn his living this wayand the passengers 
are better off too. They pay only half the price of the 
ticket." 

"And what about the inspector, if some inspector 
should come?" I asked. 

"Oh, then the poor man would have to give up half his 
baksheesh." 

THRONE WITHOUT PALACE 

The seemingly anomalous state of public affairs in 
Rumania can be explained only in the light of past devel- 
opments in Rumanian history and politics. 

Once before in history thef e has been a Greater Molda- 
vian Empire, 1 when Prince Michael the Conqueror, in 
the sixteenth century, united the two principalities of 
Wallachia and Moldavia, and extended his empire to 
Transylvania, Bulgaria, and a part of Bessarabia. But the 
Turkish conquest followed. 

The Turks, however, let native Boyars and Greek 
princes rule over the conquered provinces. With the 

* It was only when the separated areas of Moldavia and Wallachia were 
once again united in 1858 that the word Rumania first appeared on the 
maps of the Balkans. 

116 



RUMANIA 

Greek princes there came to Rumania a great number of 
Greek merchants, mostly from the Light House (Phanar) 
district of Istanbul, and settled in the towns. These 
Greeks (called "Phanariotes") soon had all commerce 
and urban business concentrated in their hands. They 
were especially hated by the Rumanian peasants; but so 
oppressively unenlightened were the latter, that they 
thought of themselves, even at the beginning of the 
eighteenth century, as Greeks. 

In 1 774 the Tsar forced Turkey to recognize a Russian 
protectorate over the two Danube Principalities of Wal- 
lachia and Moldavia. In 1 848, however, a revolt flared up 
inspired by the great uprisings of the peoples of France, 
Germany, Austria, Italy, and Hungary in which the 
Rumanians demanded complete independence from the 
Sultan. Whereupon the Tsar and the Sultan immediately 
joined forces to crush the revolutionists the Sublime 
Porte charging the rebels with being "inspired by the 
spirit of socialism"; and the Tsar claiming that the up- 
rising was directed "against God and legitimacy." 

The Russian protectorate ended in 1856, after the 
Crimean War of the French, British, and Turks against 
the Russians. Moldavia and Wallachia were united in 
1858, and a native Boyar, Colonel Cuza, was elected 
Prince. When the news of his election was brought him, 
Cuza said to the notables, "I am afraid you have made a 
mistake." 

The princely guess proved correct. By 1866 the gen- 
eral discontent had reached such a point that rebellion 

7/7 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

was brewing all over the land. One night, Prince Cuza 
found himself awakened by the touch of several pistol 
muzzles* A palace revolution had taken place. In his night- 
shirt, cursing over his interrupted night with a newly 
acquired mistress, Prince Cuza signed his abdication on a 
bit of paper held against the back of an adjutant. 

Several candidates were considered by the Great 
Powers, and finally Prince Karl von HohenzoUern-Sieg- 
maringen received the approval of the Tsar, the Haps- 
burgs, the British Government, and Napoleon III. But 
when he had made himself ready to leave for Bucharest, 
the Austro-Prussian War broke out. Karl realized at once 
that, as a Prussian officer, he would not be able to pass 
through Austria in the regular way. He therefore arrived 
in his capital (which had just been destroyed by a huge 
fire) with a false passport, as Mr. Hetlinger, a Swiss 
drummer bound for Odessa. 

"Where is the palace?" he asked the reception com- 
mittee, and received the classical answer: "Majesty, we 
have offered you a throne there was no word or prom- 
ise of a palace." 

In 1877 Karl, who had Rumanized his name to Carol, 
profiting from a Russo-Turkish war, declared the com- 
plete independence of Rumania. In 19 1 3 Rumania joined 
the victorious Serbs and Greeks at the last moment of the 
Second Balkan War and occupied without fighting 
the Dobrudja province of Bulgaria. In 1916, under 
Carol's successor, Ferdinand, Rumania cast in her lot with 
the Allies against the Central Powers, in spite of a pact 
nS 



RUMANIA 

with the latter. She emerged from the war as Romania 
Mare. 



BRATIANU DYNASTY 

Besides the royal dynasty, there has been, since Ru- 
mania's liberation from Turkish rule, another dynasty 
a political one that of the Bratianu family. The first of 
the Bratianus, Jon, in many ways resembled the Greek 
Venizelos and the Serbian Pashitch, whom we shall dis- 
cuss in the next chapter. Bratianu also started as a rebel, 
and had to go into exile. Once back in his native country, 
he took an active part in the propaganda for the union 
of Wallachia and Moldavia, and the election of Prince 
Cuza. But it was not until the days of Prince Karl-Carol 
that the rise of the Bratianu dynasty really began. 

In the beginning Bratianu, who had founded a pro- 
gressive party, the Liberal Party of Rumania, clashed 
with the Crown and the rich Boyars. Twice he attempted 
a putsch against his Kong. Then peace was made, and 
Jon Bratianu became Prime Minister. He was the driving 
force which brought Rumania into the Turkish-Russian 
War of 1877, and independence was the fruit of that 
victory. 

When Jon retired from politics, before World War I, 
he left to his son Jonel the leadership of the Liberal Party, 
which had developed into a tremendous machine with 
its name as the only remainder of its former liberalism. 
It was Jonel who switched Rumania from the camp of 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

the Hapsburgs and the Hohenzollerns to that of the 
Allies in the World War. In 1919, on orders from Ver- 
sailles, he crushed the Hungarian Soviets. Under the pro- 
tection of his soldiers, Admiral Horthy and his fascist 
regime came to power in Hungary. 

The Conservative Party, the former great rival of the 
Liberals and the advocate of a foreign policy of alliance 
with Vienna-Berlin, disappeared, smashed by the victory 
of 1918. But the Liberals took the place on the right 
which the Conservatives had held before, and became the 
representatives of commerce, finance, and industry* 

Black-eyed, black-haired, very pale, Jonel Bratianu 
was a much more imposing and majestic figure than King 
Ferdinand who resigned himself to the role of kingly 
representation. Not so easy to handle was Crown Prince 
Carol. This young, mercurial cavalry officer with a fierce 
passion for expensive horses, red-haired mistresses, and 
additional pocket money, several times clashed very 
sharply with the uncrowned head of the Bratianu 
dynasty. 

The Prime Minister had already expressed his distaste 
for Prince Carol's first marriage venture when the young 
man disappeared from Court for several days and re- 
appeared as the husband of Madame Zizi Lambrino. After 
this affair had been liquidated, Carol had a new one with 
the copper-haired Magda Lupescu. Much more con- 
cerned over the nimbus of the dynasty than over who 
was to be heir to the throne, Jonel Bratianu forced the 



J2O 



RUMANIA 

Crown Prince to renounce his right to the crown. This 
was in 1925. 

Two years later King Ferdinand died and, shortly 
thereafter, he was followed by Jonel Bratianu. The pre- 
miership was passed on to a third Bratianu, Vintila; while 
Michael, the ten-year-old son of Carol, followed his 
grandfather Ferdinand to the throne. 

Vintila Bratianu could not cope with the rising eco- 
nomic crisis. The Peasant Party, under the leadership of 
Juliu Maniu, had grown to considerable strength and 
vehemently asked for a change in the corrupt regime of 
the Liberals. 1 One hundred and fifty thousand peasants 
gathered on May 27, 1928, in the Transylvanian city of 
Alba Julia and threatened to undertake a march on 
Bucharest. The situation seeming favorable for his re- 
turn, exiled Prince Carol was intending on this same day 
to fly from England to Bucharest. Both plans turned out 
to be failures. But in the autumn of that year the Liberal 
Government was forced to resign and Juliu Maniu be- 
came Prime Minister. 

MANIU 

While there is a certain similarity and analogy between 
the leading men of the degenerating liberal parties of 

1 G. Costa Foru, a former member of the Cabinet, and President of the 
League for Human Rights, called the Liberal Party "the most abject 
political monstrosity/* In 1925 he wrote: "The Liberal Party of the 
Bratianus fosters the Siguranza in every way. The Siguranza as a matter 
of fact is identical with the Party, providing a secure election whenever 
needed. The Siguranza is the vanguard of Rumanian fascism. 9 ' 

121 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

Serbia, Greece, and Rumania between Pashitch, Veni- 
zelos, and Bratianu there is equally a certain affinity 
between the organizers of the big peasant movements 
in the Balkans between Stamboliski in Bulgaria, Raditch 
in Croatia, and Maniu in Rumania. But whereas the 
Bratianus were worthy matches for their shrewd, ruth- 
less, and unscrupulous colleagues, Pashitch and Veni- 
zelos, Maniu was a much paler personality than the 
leaders of the Bulgarian and Croatian peasant parties. 
Nevertheless, he was a friend of the peasants. He tried 
to better their social position. He had as his aims democ- 
racy, a peasant state, and the co-operative organization 
of peasant economy, credit, and education. He was fair- 
minded and honest, but often nebulous and weak. 

When Maniu became Prime Minister for the first time 
in 1926, he abolished the censorship, ousted hundreds of 
corrupt bureaucrats, suppressed anti-Semitic riots, and 
improved the legal and actual situation of the national 
minorities. Elections without terror were held for the 
first time in Rumania under his prime-ministership. But 
Maniu had many illusions. One of them was that he could 
clip the wings of the strongly entrenched Liberal oli- 
garchy by securing the return of exiled Carol. 

In June 1930, Carol returned, and in October he had 
already had Maniu maneuvered out of the Government. 
A severe agricultural crisis helped him in arousing the 
peasants against the government. The premiership was 
given to Carol's former tutor, Professor Jorga, leader of 
122 



RUMANIA 

a small conservative party called the National Union. 
Jorga won the elections thanks to the electoral law ef- 
fected back in 1 92 6 by the Liberal Party of the Bratianus, 
in order to secure a safe majority for every government. 
This law gave 60 percent and more of the parliamentary 
seats to the party which had won 40 percent of the elec- 
toral votes. 

In spite of his splendid victory in the elections, Jorga 
could not cope with the growing economic and political 
crisis. He left, and Carol turned to his old foes, the Liberal 
Party, now under the nominal leadership of the fourth 
and least splendid of the Bratianus, Constantine. 

From 1933 on, fascist anti-Semitic groups had grown 
rapidly in the country, encouraged by the success of 
Nazism in Germany. But anti-Semitism was no new thing 
in Rumania. The Christian Defense League of Professor 
Cuza dated from the old days before World War I, 
whereas its more extreme offshoot, the "Iron Guard" of 
Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, had made its first prominent 
appearance following an attempted murder of Minister 
Angelescuin 1927. 

! 

IRON GUARD 

In 1933, the Iron Guard was dissolved by the Liberal 
Government of Duca -who had to pay with his life for 
that act. His successor, Tatarescu, fought the Iron Guard, 
but never succeeded in suppressing it effectively, being 

123 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

hampered by his own reactionary leanings 1 and by the 
equivocal attitude of Carol, who slyly shifted one foot 
from the camp of the Little Entente to the camp of the 
Axis, and flirted with totalitarian ideas and fascist theories. 

Codreanu, who had transformed his dissolved Iron 
Guard into the party, All for the Fatherland, continued 
to carry on his propaganda and terroristic activities. He 
recruited his members largely from among dispossessed 
Boyars, from the "Golden Youth" of Bucharest, and 
from young students, lawyers, professors, retired army 
officers, and general riff-raff. Born of a German mother 
and Polish father, Codreanu preached the superiority of 
the Rumanian race, ardent anti-Semitism, and a medley 
of fascist ideas about the corporative state and fascist effi- 
ciency. He opposed the King's mistress, Magda Lupescu, 
and so antagonized Carolwho otherwise might have 
fostered his fascist movement. Under the circumstances, 
the King turned to the competition. He gave his support 
to the newly formed National Christian Party of Goga, 
and to the Rumanian Front of Dr. Vaida-Voevod. 

In December 1937 something unprecedented in the 
political history of Rumania took place. A government 
in power did not win the elections. The Liberal Party 
received only 3 8 percent of the votes. Tatarescu resigned, 
and King Carol appointed, in a sort of coup, the anti- 
Semitic leader Goga as Prime Minister although the Na- 
tional Christian Party had polled less than 10 percent of 

1 It was a Tatarescu, Stefan, a brother of the Prime Minister, who was 
co-founder of the fascist Rumanian Front. 

124. 



RUMANIA 



the votes. The Goga government lasted only forty-five 
days, causing general confusion at home and abroad. 

FROM DICTATORSHIP TO EXILE 

In March 1938 Carol appointed a so-called Cabinet of 
National Concentration. Like Alexander of Yugoslavia, 
he tore up the Constitution, engineered a plebiscite on a 
new one, and set up a military dictatorship. Codreami 
was arrested and, some time later, was shotallegedly 
while attempting to escape. But having liquidated one 
fascist leader, Bang Carol steered his government and 
country full into the stream of fascism, integrating the 
Rumanian economy with the German one, and promot- 
ing a full-fledged totalitarian internal policy. 

Still, he seemed none too trustworthy an ally to Berlin. 
Hungary and Bulgaria had a better record, and so they 
were given parts of Rumania in August and September 
1940. Rumania was forced to cede Dobrudja, with 7700 
square miles and 380,000 inhabitants, to Bulgaria; and 
Northern Transylvania, with 18,000 square miles and 
2,400,000 inhabitants, to Hungary. These cessions of 
territory, coming so soon after the cession of Bessarabia 
and Northern Bukovina to the Soviet Union, 1 shattered 
the whole regime. Carol, Madame Lupescu, and^their 
camarilla were sent into exile as scapegoats. Michael was 

1 Northern Bukovina and Bessarabia were ceded on June 28, 1940. They 
constitute a territory of 6000 and 17,000 square miles respectively, and 
have populations of 500,000 and 3,200,000, The Bessarabian question will 
be dealt with in more detail in another chapter. 

125 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

proclaimed King for a second time, but the real power 
was taken over by the new Prime Minister, General 
Antonescu, who formed a government together with 
Codreanu's successor, Iron Guard leader Horia Sima. 

The triumph of the Iron Guard did not last long. Nazi 
Germany wanted the country to be run exclusively on 
its own economic and military plans. The chief positions 
in industry and administration were occupied by Nazis 
or their trustees. When the Iron Guard showed its re- 
sentment of this procedure, the Nazi Army and its puppet 
General Antonescu quickly disposed of the greedy Iron 
Guardists. Most of their leaders were imprisoned or shot, 
and Horia Sima had to flee. 

Rumania became a mere province of the Greater Ger- 
man Lebensrawn. 



126 



YUGOSLAVIA . 



HERZEGOVINA; 




Rumanians 



CHAPTER 9 



"Unity or Death": THE 

STORY OF YUGOSLAVIA 

"A state imthout social justice is a frame 'without a 
picture; a state iwthout justice for its nationalities 
is a vase 'without flowers" 

STEFAN 



The Balkans in miniature that's Yugoslavia." These 
are the words of Stepan Raditch, founder of the 
Croatian Peasant Party and leader of the struggle for a 
federated state of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes; they 
were uttered ten years after the foundation of Yugo- 
slavia, and a few days before he was fatally wounded by 
a bullet in open parliamentary session. 

What Raditch meant was that Yugoslavia, like the 
Balkans as a whole, is an area containing every type of 
geographical, national, economic, religious, and social 
antagonism. As one of the "succession states" of World 

129 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

War I, Yugoslavia was composed of the formerly inde- 
pendent Serbian and Montenegrin Kingdoms; the former 
Hungarian Provinces of Croatia, Slovenia, and Voivo- 
dina; the Austrian Crown Land of Dalmatia; and the 
Austro-Hungarian "Empire Provinces" of Bosnia and 
Herzegovina-~-every part having its own history, differ- 
ent from that of the others. 

Spreading roughly over 100,000 square miles, Yugo- 
slaviathe second largest of the Balkan States com- 
prised such different landscapes as: the rich, fertile 
though hilly, highly cultivated province of Croatia, with 
its neat villages and vast fields of golden wheat; rocky, 
mountainous, poverty-stricken Macedonia, with its wild, 
deep canyons and cruel, miserly soil which barely feeds 
the man who gives it all his sweat and energy; Herze- 
govina, land of old oak forests and Oriental-looking 
towns; and Dalmatia, hot, dry, and thirsty, nursing its 
tiny, forlorn villages in the barren Karst Mountains, and 
proud of its beautiful Roman and Greek cities on the 
coast of the Adriatic the^Azure Blue Sea" of South 
Slav songs. 

The Yugoslav population of 15,000,000 has a manifold 
national and religious pattern. There are about 7,000,000 
Serbs, 3,500,000 Croats, 1,175,000 Slovenes, 600,000 
Macedonians, 500,000 Germans, and as many Albanians; 
the rest are Bulgarians, Rumanians, Jews, Gypsies, Tsin- 
tsars, Italians, Turks, and a few other national splinters, 
130 



YUGOSLAVIA 

The Serbs are Orthodox, the Croats and Slovenes are 
Roman Catholic; but there are also Islamic Croats and 
Serbs, and there are Jews and Islamized Jews, 

Three-quarters of the population are directly depend- 
ent upon agriculture and forestry but there are national 
antagonisms even here. Serbia is a land of small independ- 
ent farmers, with a few large estates. In Macedonia, the 
Begs still rule, in a semi-feudal manner, over the serf-like 
"Haks," the landless or poor peasants who have to lease 
their soil. Dalmatian and Bosnian peasants live under 
similar circumstances; whereas Croatia is the country of 
wealthy farmers, rich estates, and small independent peas- 
ants with better farming equipment than any other sec- 
tion of Yugoslavia. 

Wheat and corn are the main crops in the east. The 
south and west produce cattle. Belgrade is the capital; but 
Zagreb is the richest city. 

The Danube and the Vardar are the two big means of 
transport for Serbian crops and commerce. They lead re- 
spectively to the Black and the Aegean Seas. The Cro- 
atian lines of commerce and communication, on the other 
hand, lead to the Adriatic and to Austria, Germany, and 
Hungary. 

The exploitation of the rich mineral resources and the 
establishment of industries were undertaken by Austrian 
and German capital in the western and northern part; 
and by French, British, and Belgian investors in the south 
and east. 

131 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 



BIRTH OF THE SOUTH SLAV NATION 

The modern national states of Europe were born in dif- 
ferent ways. In France, for instance, the Great Revolu- 
tion of 1789 united the "French peoples" into "la Nation 
Frmgaise" But the establishment of the national state of 
the Southern Slavs resembled, in many ways, the founda- 
tion of modern Germany and Italy; it took place under 
the auspices of a dynasty. In Italy, it was the House of 
Savoia; in Germany, the House of Hohenzollern; and 
in Yugoslavia, the House of Karageorgevitch. Very 
much as was the case in Italy, a preliminary condition of 
the South Slavic union was the destruction of the Haps- 
burg regime. But the South Slavs lacked what the Italians 
and Germans had at the time of the establishment of 
their modern national states a powerful industry and 
commerce, a great urban population, and a self-conscious 
third estate. 

In the lands of the South Slavs, the Hapsburg and 
Ottoman regimes had kept alive remnants of feudalism. 
The Bosnian kmet had to give up one-third of his crop 
to the landowner. In Dalmatia, vineyards and olive groves 
were leased in the manner of the old Venetian colonat, 
a sort of semi-serfdom. In Croatia and Slovenia, 209 
estate-holders owned a full fourth of the arable land; 
whereas 300,000 peasants owned only another fourth. 
Serbia, on the contrary, was the country of small inde- 
pendent farmers. It was no wonder that the hopes of the 
kmets and colons turned to that country. 
132 



YUGOSLAVIA 

At the bottom of all the dreams and actions tending 
toward the unity of the South Slavs, burned the desire 
for a union of peasant brother peoples, free from foreign 
oppression, free from serfdom. It was not by chance that 
in the first manifesto issued after the establishment of 
the new Yugoslav State, the promise was given that all 
big estates would be broken up, and all remnants of 
feudalism abolished: "Every Serb, Croat, and Slovene 
shall be a free man on his free soil" 

Ethnologically, all Southern Slavs are of the same 
origin. Even the most widely separated tribes are no more 
different from each other than the Castillians and Anda- 
lusians in Spain; or the Bavarians and Frisians in Ger- 
many. Different historical developments did not allow 
them, however, to grow in unity. In the course of time, 
three branches of the Southern Slav language developed 
into different literary languages. This is not difficult to 
understand when one realizes that the frontier between 
the Western and Eastern Roman Empires cut straight 
through the area inhabited by the Southern Slavs. The 
Bulgarians and Serbs were drawn into the orbit of By- 
zantine culture, whereas the Croats and the Slovenes 
went along with the West Roman civilization. Later on, 
the frontier between the Ottoman and the Hapsburg 
Empires again cut through the South Slav territory. 
Finally, the policy of the Great Powers in establishing 
various small dynastic puppet-states fostered the growth 
of differences and cleavages among the South Skvic peo- 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

pies. Thus, instead of a common South Slav national idea, 
the divergent aspirations of a Greater Serbian, a Greater 
Bulgarian, and a Greater Croatian nationalism grew up. 

ANCIENT GRANDEUR OF CROATIA 

The Croats had their great Croatian Empire in the early 
years of the tenth century. In 1 102 they were conquered 
by the Hungarians, but kept certain autonomous rights 
and their own legislative assemblies. The Turks were 
never able to occupy the whole of Croatia, but they suc- 
ceeded in taking Slovenia in 1526. Croatians were in the 
vanguard of the Hapsburg armies which drove the Sul- 
tan's troops back, and planted the yellow-black eagle 
banner of Austria's greatest warrior, Prince Eugene, on 
the walls of the Turkish citadel of Belgrade, in August 
1717. 

In 1 867, when the Hapsburg Monarchy was re-formed 
into a dual state, Croatia was given to the Hungarian 
part, but still preserved a certain autonomy. In the last 
quarter of the nineteenth century, the Hungarians tried 
very hard to denationalize the Croatians, but the latter 
put up a stubborn resistance. Out of this fight for the de- 
fense of Croatian autonomy grew the desire for absolute 
independence from Hungarian rule, and for unity with 
their Serbian brothers across the border. 

For some time, plans to convert Austria into a triune 
monarchy, consisting of Austria, Hungary, and a South 
Slav section, were cherished by the majority of the Cro- 



YUGOSLAVIA 

atian and Slovene politicians. Archduke Franz Ferdi- 
nand, the heir apparent to the Hapsburg throne, fostered 
this plan, which was considered an effective antidote for 
the "poison of union with the Serbs." The plan never 
got beyond the point of being a rather hazy idea. Still, 
the fear of it was one of the reasons behind the assassina- 
tion of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Bosnian and Ser- 
bian terrorists members of a secret society of which we 
will hear later. 

During the World War, the first big insurgence against 
the Hapsburg regime occurred in South Slav waters. In 
the early days of 1918, sailors of the Imperial and Royal 
Hapsburg Navy stationed in the Bay of Cattaro mutinied. 
The revolt was suppressed, and four sailors, two of whom 
had Croatian names, were executed. A few months later, 
when the end of the Hapsburg Monarchy was in sight, 
a Croatian regiment mutinied in Fiume and gave the 
signal for the general dissolution of army and state. 

DALMATIA, BOSNIA, HERZEGOVINA 

Dalmatia, part of the old Croatian Empire, had its own 
variegated history. The Turks occupied the interior, the 
Venetians the coast, with the exception of the city of 
Dubrovnik or Ragusa, which was an independent repub- 
lic. Napoleon gave Dalmatia to Austria in 1797; then, in 
1805, to the vice-Kingdom of Italy; finally, in 1809, to 
the short-lived Illyrian Kingdom. In 1814, after the fall 
of the Corsican, Austria took over Dalmatia and kept it 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

until the double-headed eagle of the Hapsburgs died 
in 1918* 

Bosnia and Herzegovina were Serbian in the twelfth 
century; then they .became a Hungarian dependency, 
only to be overrun and conquered by the Turks in the 
last quarter of the fifteenth century. The great Bosnian 
revolt of 1 875 was the prelude to the Russo-Turkish wars 
of 1876 to 1879. At the end of these wars the Congress 
of Berlin established an Austro-Hungarian administra- 
tion for the two provinces, under the suzerainty of the 
Sultan. This arrangement was abolished in 1908 when 
the Hapsburgs formally incorporated Bosnia and Herze- 
govina into their Monarchy. 

CRN A GORA 

On October 29, 1918, the "National Council" of the 
Austrian South Slavs proclaimed the independence of 
the "territories of Croatia, Slovenia, Fiume, Dalmatia, 
Bosnia, Herzegovina, Istria, Gorizia, and Voivodina," 
and declared its readiness to enter into a federation with 
the Serbs and Montenegrins. 

Peculiar geographical conditions and historical events 
made the Black Mountains, "Crna Gora," the cradle of 
liberty for those parts of the Yugoslav peoples who were 
under the Turkish yoke. Although the Turks conquered 
the Black Mountains, they could not establish permanent 
rule. In the fifteenth century, the Venetians garrisoned 
their troops there and gave the country an Italian name, 
136 



YUGOSLAVIA 

Montenegro* In the seventeenth century a native chief- 
tain shook off the obligation to pay tribute to the Sultan, 
and successfully defended the country against his Bashi- 
Bazouks. 

In 1851 an independent Principality of Montenegro 
was proclaimed and officially recognized by Turkey and 
the Great Powers. In 1912, it was Montenegro which 
opened the war of the Balkan Allies against the Sultan. 
During the World War, the country was overrun by 
the Austrians, but when the Austrian Empire cracked, 
and the Hapsburg armies disbanded, Serbian troops en- 
tered Montenegro. 

The wave of enthusiasm for Southern Slav unity ran 
high in those days. A broad autonomy was promised to 
the Montenegrins. The few oppositional voices were 
drowned in the joyous chorus of acclamation when the 
incorporation of Montenegro into the Yugoslav State 
was proclaimed. The promised autonomy was, however, 
never granted. 

KARAGEORGEVITCH AND OBRENOVITCH 

The Serbs can boast of a continuous national identity 
since the twelfth century, when they rid themselves of 
the overlordship of Byzantium. Between 1331 and 1335, 
Stefan Dushan founded a Greater Serbian Empire, com- 
prising Serbia, Macedonia, and Albania. But the year 
1389 saw the destruction of Serbian independence. The 
battle on the "Plain of the Blackbirds" Kosovo Polje 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

marked the beginning of the Turkish regime. To this 
day, the Serbian peasant girls sing the old sad songs about 
the flower of Serbian youth killed on the Blackbird 
Plain: 

That night came two black ravens 

from Kosovo Field, 
And round about the tower, in the 

red dawn they wheeled. 

Serbia was not a pleasant pashalik to govern. Time and 
again the Serbs struck back. Bands of sharp-shooters went 
into the mountains and plundered Turkish caravans and 
houses. 

In 1804, Black George, "Kara George," swineherd 
and chieftain of a band of robbers and rebels, led a coun- 
trywide uprising. The Sultan, unable to defeat him by 
force of arms, found a weapon in the rivalry between 
Black George and another swineherd and clan chieftain, 
Milosh Obrenovitch. In return for the promise of auton- 
omy, Milosh Obrenovitch sent the Sultan the head of 
Kara George, and thus began a century-long bitter feud 
between the families of Karageorgevitch and Obreno- 
vitch. 

Milosh got the autonomy and the title of "Gospodar" 
Prince. He sent the Sublime Porte letters of loyalty and 
maintained secret envoys at the Court of the Russian 
Tsar. He bribed viziers and pashas, raised foodstuffs for 
the Turkish armies and smuggled them into the hands of 
the Russians, getting paid by both sides. He collected 
138 



YUGOSLAVIA 

taxes in good Maria Theresa ducats and sent them to 
Istanbul in bad piasters; he destroyed Serbian salt mines 
because he owned shares in Rumanian ones. He hanged 
his own brother and had his father poisoned and ended up 
as "Milosh the Liberator/' blessed by two Archbishops 
and cursed by the common folk. 

In 1867 full independence was proclaimed by Michael 
Obrenovitch, who was killed a year later by the adher- 
ents of the Karageorgevitch family. A slaughter of the 
latter followed. The feud went on. 

Serbia's independence and continuous growth were 
mainly a by-product of the struggle of the Hapsburgs, 
the Tsars, and the Sultans over the Balkans; Serbia profit- 
ing from the Austrian desire to have a springboard to the 
southeast. The Obrenovitch dynasty knew how to capi- 
talize on this desire. For decades Viennese gold rolled into 
the treasury in the Konak, the Castle of Belgrade. 

In 1903, an end was put to the dynasty of the Obreno- 
vitches and its pro-Austrian policy. King Alexander and 
Queen Draga were killed by an officers' conspiratorial 
organization called the "Black Hand." The oppositional 
Radical Party, which had remained in the background of 
the bloody palace revolution, called a Karageorgevitch 
from his Swiss exile to Serbia's throne. 

This exile, Peter, had been a Komitadje in Bosnia, 
fighting against the Turks. Forced to flee, he had gone 
to France and joined the army of Napoleon III in the 
war against Prussia. Later he had lived in Zurich, mingled 
with Russian nihilists and French Bohemians, and trans- 

*39 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

lated Mill's Essay on Liberty. He was sixty when he re- 
ceived the call from Belgrade to take his place in the 
palace still red with the blood of King Alexander and 
his wife. When Peter arrived in Serbia, the English Min- 
ister indignantly left, and the diplomatic corps did not 
attend his coronation. 



NIKOLA PASHITCH 

The man who called Peter Karageorgevitch back home 
from exile was Nikola Pashitch, another of the pictur- 
esque, uncrowned kings of Balkan policy in the last quar- 
ter of the nineteenth and the first quarter of the twentieth 
centuries. Tall, broad-shouldered, bearded, even in his 
top hat and dress coat adorned with the great crosses and 
stars of many European orders, he retained the appear- 
ance of a powerful starost, the chief of a village clan- 
full of patriarchal wisdom and shrewdness and peasant 
distrust. 

Pashitch was born the son of a poor farmer, under 
Ottoman rule. His enemies have intimated that "he was 
of Turkish origin, and thus accounted for the despotic 
temperament which enabled him to rule his Serbia with 
ari iron rod for over twenty years." * His mother was a 
Bulgarian, and all his life he mixed up Serbian and Bul- 
garian words. He studied engineering in Switzerland, 
where he became acquainted with the ideas of Russian 

anarchists, followers of Bakunin. 

p- 

1 Count Sforza, Makers of Europe. 
240 



YUGOSLAVIA 

In 1880, Pashitch, together with his friend Velimiro- 
vitch, founded a nationalistic, progressive party, which 
vehemently fought the ruling house of the Obrenovitches 
and their Austria-oriented policy. In 1885 he opposed 
the war against the Bulgarians, which had been declared 
on the instigation of Vienna. He was forced to flee, and 
from his Bulgarian exile he directed a fierce campaign 
against King Milan Obrenovitch, the Serbian Govern- 
ment, and the pro-Austrian u war party." His strongly 
worded pamphlets and manifestoes would certainly have 
been banned, and their author persecuted for "Com- 
munist" activity, by the Pashitch of later years and his 
followers in the premiership all members of the same 
Radical Party. 

THE BLACK HAND 

"Pashitch's strength in politics was not so much in ac- 
tion," says one of his biographers, "as intrigue behind the 
scenes, as well as the enviable quality of possessing no 
nerves." One of the most powerful tools in his hands was 
a secret society called the "Black Hand." 

The nucleus of this organization was created about the 
beginning of this century for the express purpose of 
doing away with the Obrenovitches. An army captain, 
Dragutin Dimitriyevitch, a friend of the Tsar's envoy 
and an intimate of Nikola Pashitch, was the soul of the 
conspiracy. Bull-like, with a shaven skull, a round face, 
turned-up mustaches, and a protruding, dimpled chin, 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

he looked more like a sergeant of the Tsar's Cossack 
bodyguard than a well-educated specialist in high strategy 
and tactics. He was daring and foolhardy; but still 
methodical, with an enormous capacity for labor. His 
friends called him "Apis/' the Bee. 

On June 1 1, 1903, Captain Dimitriyevitch led a care- 
fully selected group of conspirators to the Konak, the 
royal castle of Belgrade. Pera Zhivkovitch, a young lieu- 
tenant of the guard who was later to play a decisive role 
both in the history of the country and in the life and 
death of Apis, with shaking arms opened the door to the 
Black Hand officers. "Do not tremble like a girl, you 
will drop the key!" gibed Apis, thus beginning a life- 
long hidden enmity. 

When the conspirators entered the Konak, to their 
astonishment they found the royal bedroom empty. But 
one of the party discovered a crack in the wallpaper 
which betrayed a door to a secret room. In they went, 
and espied the royal couple hiding in nightgowns behind 
a bed. Twenty minutes later, the bodies of King Alex- 
ander and Queen Draga, riddled with bullets and slashed 
by swords, were thrown out into the street. The way 
was clear for a new Radical Government and a new for- 
eign policy. 

The envoy of the Tsar, watching the scene from be- 
hind a curtained window of his embassy, sent out two 
lackeysone with a sheet to cover the two bodies, and 
the other with a letter to Pashitch. An hour later Pashitch 
came, pale and nervous. 
142 



YUGOSLAVIA 

"It is terrible, Your Excellency. They have killed each 
other in drunkenness! " 

"Oh, did they?" answered the envoy. "It's very un- 
fortunate. But let's turn to the future." 

In 1908, when Austria-Hungary incorporated the 
provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, until then held 
only as mandates, into the Dual Monarchy, anti- Austrian 
feeling ran high in Serbia. Dimitriyevitch and his friends 
saw the time ripe for transforming their small conspira- 
torial group into a bigger organization. 

This organization took on the name of Ujedinjenje 
ill Smrt"- "Unity or Death." Its aims were: "The fight 
for, and the realization of, the union of all South Slavs 
under the direction of the Kingdom of Serbia, which 
must be considered as the Piedmont of a Greater Serbia." 1 
Its emblem was a clenched fist grasping a flag with the 
skull and crossbones, a knife, a bomb, and a flask of poison. 

The newspaper Piedmont was founded, schools for 
Komitadjis were established, and anti- Austrian pamphlets 
were printed and smuggled across the border. In 1914 
the organization had 60,000 members in Serbia, and 
agents in all parts of the South Slav provinces of Austria 
and Hungary. 

The men who threw the bombs and fired the fatal shots 
of Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, killing Archduke Franz 
Ferdinand and his wife, were sent by Unity or Death, 
perhaps without the express knowledge of Pashitch and 

1 Piedmont was the nucleus of modern Italy during the struggle for 
national unity. 

143 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

the Government, but certainly with the help of the high- 
est ranking officers and officials. 

The fact that Dimitriyevitch knew too much, and the 
bitter rivalry of Pera Zhivkovitch, the former lieutenant 
who was now the head of another secret officers* organi- 
zation called the "White Hand," caused the downfall of 
Apis. He was indicted for "republican activities" and 
a "plan to kill Crown Prince Alexander." On June 26, 
191 7, he was shot near Salonica. When he stepped down 
into the grave which had been dug for his execution, he 
said calmly to the officer commanding the firing squad: 
"I'm afraid you will have to dig some more. I should 
dislike the idea of not having enough room under the 
earth." 



THE SERBO-CROATIAN PACT 

Just about that time, Serbia was being conquered by the 
Central Powers. Pashitch, with an exiled government, sat 
on the Island of Corfu, and there seemed little hope that 
the two forlorn Serbian divisions, which stood at the 
Salonica front of the Allies, would ever return victorious 
to the homeland. A separate peace with Austria and Ger- 
many was not out of the realm of possibility and 'con- 
jecture. The execution of Apis, who had engineered the 
assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, could prove 
useful in the event of peace negotiations. So it is quite 
understandable that Pashitch should make a somewhat 
144 



YUGOSLAVIA 

ambiguous reference to the "double usefulness" of Apis's 
death. 

But Pashitch wouldn't have been Pashitch if he had 
not had two irons in the fire; while he was playing with 
the idea of a separate peace with Austria, he also con- 
cluded a pact with the and- Austrian Croatian exiles. This 
was the "Pact of Corfu," which later played an impor- 
tant part in the Serbo-Croatian conflict. 

The pact was a compromise between two opposite 
conceptions of a South Slav State composed of Serbia and" 
the liberated South Slav provinces of Austria-Hungary. 
Pashitch saw this state only as Greater Serbia. The Cro- 
atians and Slovenes wanted a federation with equal rights 
for each member. Pashitch agreed, but only after a bit- 
ter dispute, to make an oral promise of Croatian and 
Slovenian autonomy as members of a federation, but he 
formulated the pact so that it provided merely for a "con- 
stitutional democratic parliamentary monarchy, with a 
constituent assembly elected by universal, secret, and 
direct suffrage." 

When, in the Autumn of 1 9 1 8, the downfall of Austria 
made possible the realization of South Slav unity, Pash- 
itch, pointing to the written words of the Corfu pact and 
using the military power of Serbia and the threat of an 
Italian invasion of Croatia, cheated his "liberated broth- 
ers." Crown Prince Regent Alexander proclaimed the 
South Slav Union within the boundaries of a centralized 
state under Serbian leadership. 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

This was the birth of Yugoslavia/ and at the same time 
the seed of the conflict between the Serbs and the Slo- 
venes and Croatians, which was to poison the whole his- 
tory of the new state and prove fatal in 1 941 . In a strange 
way, the slogan of Pashitch's Black Hand, "Unity or 
Death," was to come true: since unity was not attained, 
death was the alternative. 

One of the members of the Croatian delegation which 
went to Belgrade to negotiate the basis of a South Slav 
federation, and was cheated by Pashitch and the Crown, 
was Ante Pavelitch. The shock he received in Belgrade 
turned him to a course of violent hatred, terrorism, and 
separatism. We shall meet him later in our story as the 
leader of the Ustashi, who engineered the assassination 
of King Alexander in 1934; and again as the chief of the 
Croatian State created by Hitler and Mussolini after the 
invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941. 

But Pavelitch and his small nationalistic party, and 
later on his terroristic Ustashi organization, were not in 
the forefront of the Croatian struggle against Belgrade. 
This fight was mainly carried on by the big Peasant Party 
under the leadership of Stepan Raditch and Dr. Matchek. 

LITTLE FATHER STEPAN RADITCH 

Raditch was carved of the same wood as the "peasant 
lion," Stamboliski of Bulgaria, and he met the same end 
through assassination. He was stocky, with a little Van 

1 Yugoslavia means the country of the Southern Slavs. 
146 



YUGOSLAVIA 

Dyke beard, and a bushy mustache hanging over his 
upper lip. His eyes, slightly veiled, had an unforgettable 
smiling charm. He looked like a peasant doctor or peas- 
ant lawyer. The language he spoke was that of the plain 
village folk, decorated with metaphors out of nature and 
the everyday life of the peasant. I once watched him ad- 
dress a meeting of about two thousand small farmers. He 
began his speech with the words, "Blessed be the name 
of Jesus down with the priests!" So fascinated was his 
audience that at the end of his discourse all knelt down 
and blessed him. Years after his death I found his picture 
in peasant dwellings in Dalmatia and Croatia, beside the 
holy ikons and behind the eternal lamp. 

Raditch had a stormy life. As a student he led a demon- 
stration against a Hungarian governor who had tried to 
Magyarize the Croats. He was expelled from schools and 
run out of cities. He studied in Prague, Moscow, Buda- 
pest, and Paris. He founded the Peasant Party of Croatia 
with the slogan, "Peasant government, peasant adminis- 
tration, peasant parliament." On the eve of the First 
World War, he was an ardent fighter for the idea of a 
triune Hapsburg Monarchy, "Neither German, nor 
Magyar, nor Slav; but Christian, European, and demo- 
cratic." Three years later he advocated a "nationalist, 
Slavic revolt" against Austria-Hungary and federal union 
with the Serbs. 

As early as December 1919, he took on the leadership 
of the Croatian opposition against Belgrade. From then 
on he spent as much time in jail and abroad as home in 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

Yugoslavia, with a short intermezzo as Minister in a Bel- 
grade government. 

When he was imprisoned in 1919, more than 200,000 
Croatian peasants sent a petition to Woodrow Wilson, 
asking the liberation of "Little Father Raditch." He was 
liberated, and went to Paris and London, where the gov- 
ernments that had helped to deliver Yugoslavia paid no 
heed to his complaints in the name of the Croatian peo- 
ple. He went to Moscow, where he was fascinated by the 
policy for national minorities and the agricultural legis- 
lation of the Soviets. Back home, he was again arrested. 

The so-called Vidovdan Constitution of 192 1 (Vidov- 
dan means Saint Vitus Day), stating that there was only 
one nation and establishing a centralized state, was never 
recognized by the non-Serb nationalities, since it had 
been voted upon by only 205 deputies, the 153 Croatian 
deputies having been absent in protest and the 58 Com- 
munist deputies having been deprived by decree of their 
seats in the Chamber. Unrest continued in Croatia. The 
Peasant Party was outlawed, a reign of terror established. 
Clashes with the Serbian authorities increased from 
month to month. The Croatian question became the cru- 
cial problem of Yugoslavia. 

In 1925, the Radical Party had to abandon the govern- 
ment for a short time because of the general discontent 
and disorder in the country. The new democratic 
prime minister, Davidovitch, held new elections, which 
brought an overwhelming victory for Raditch in Croatia. 
He was liberated, and drove directly from prison to an 
148 



YUGOSLAVIA 

audience with King Alexander. He became a member of 
the government, but resigned after six months because of 
the impossibility of furthering the project of Croatian 
autonomy against the sabotage of the almighty Radical 
Party and the Royal Court. 

In 1926, Raditch's great enemy, Pashitch, died; but 
the regime remained the same. The chances for a Serbo- 
Croatian reconciliation became slimmer and slimmer, and 
sustained a fatal blow when Raditch was shot in the 
Chamber on June 20, 1928, by Deputy Punisha 
Ratchitch, an old protege of Bang Alexander, and a 
member of the Pashitch party. Raditch lingered on for 
six weeks, and then died of his wounds. The Croatian 
deputies left the parliament and stayed away for years. 

ROYAL DICTATORSHIP 

Meanwhile, the international crisis was growing. In the 
first decade of the existence of Yugoslavia, the govern- 
ment used up 130 Cabinet Ministers. The Radical Party 
had degenerated into one of those abjectly corrupt and 
reactionary political machines so typical of Balkan polit- 
ical history. It ruled the country through terror and 
bribery. 1 The national minorities were in an uproar; the 

1 The League of Human Rights stated in 1938 that the Glavnyacha the 
Belgrade police headquarters for "political criminals" -had committed 
"more than five hundred murders only in order to smooth the way for 
candidates of the ruling Radical Party in the last four elections.** Pashftch, 
founder and leader of the party, was penniless when he entered the 
government in 1903. In 1926 he died leaving several estates, a castle, and 
copper mine stocks amounting to 80,000,000 dinars in value. 

149 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

poor peasants, rebellious. One financial scandal followed 
another. 

In this situation, King Alexander, on January 6, 1929, 
proclaimed his personal dictatorship, with General Pera 
Zhivkovitch of the "White Hand" as Prime Minister. 
A new Constitution was decreed. The Government nat- 
urally won the elections. In the royal manifestoes, rule 
and order reigned in Yugoslavia. All was so well arranged 
in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia that one beautiful day in 
193 1 General Zhivkovitch had to resign and certain dic- 
tatorial measures had to be curtailed because of too dan- 
gerous tension in all parts of Yugoslavia. 

All attempts to appease the Croatians by cajolery and 
coercion had failed. In several solemn statements, the 
deputies of Croatia, boycotting the Belgrade parliament, 
had stated that with the assassination of Raditch and the 
declaration of a royal dictatorship, "all feelings of the 
Croatian people for the Yugoslav State have vanished." 
In two notes to the League of Nations, they declared: 
"King Alexander has broken the promise given on De- 
cember i, 1918, to the representatives of the National 
Council of the Croats a$d Slovenes, namely, to govern 
constitutionally, always, and to obey the supreme laws of 
the country. He has proclaimed himself an absolute mon- 
arch. . . . Although the Croats, in accordance with 
secular tradition, wished to fight only with legal means, 
thfy are forced to use other means at a moment when 
legality is liquidated by the King." 



/jo 



YUGOSLAVIA 

PAVELITCH AND THE USTASHI 

It was at this time that the terrorist society Ustashi - 
was organized on the pattern of the Macedonian IMRO. 
Its leader was Ante Pavelitch, Croatian deputy and 
lawyer. In 1929 he defended twenty Macedonian stu- 
dents in a mass trial at Skoplje. There he made his first 
contacts with IMRO leaders, and a visit to IMRO head- 
quarters in Bulgaria followed. In a joint declaration of 
Pavelitch, his friend Pertchetz, and the leaders of IMRO, 
both parties stated their will to "co-ordinate the fight for 
the human and national rights, the political freedom, and 
the entire independence of Croatia and Macedonia.'* 

The Belgrade tribunal thereupon sentenced Pavelitch 
and Pertchetz to death in absentia. Both fled to Italy, 
where they were given asylum. Pavelitch was given a 
villa at Pesaro, an Italian passport, and funds for drilling 
his Ustashi at Borgotaro, Italy, and in Yanka Puszta, Hun- 
gary. The Yugoslav authorities inaugurated a ferocious 
terror campaign in Croatia against all persons suspected 
of having sympathies with Pavelitch. Hundreds were 
imprisoned, scores were killed. Pavelitch in turn wrote 
in 1933: "We condemn Alexander the Last to death." 

In October, 1934, Alexander "the Unifier" was killed 
in Marseille by a Macedonian IMRO man, Vlada Tcher- 
nozemski "the Chauffeur," who had been lent to the 
organization of Ante Pavelitch. Before Vlada killed the 
King, he had, for some time, been the instructor of 
Ustashi terrorist bands drilling in Hungary and Italy. The 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

arms had come from Nazi Germany; the money from 
Fascist Italy. 

After the assassination of Alexander, his brother Paul 
became regent for the minor King Peter. Educated at the 
Tsarist Court, Prince Paul was no less reactionary than 
his brother; but he was not quite so strong. He also had 
to deal with a more complex international situation. First, 
Paul tried to wipe out the opposition through totalitarian 
methods. For some time he flirted with the idea of a fascist 
corporative state; then he was forced onto the path of 
compromise. The "White Hand" generals disappeared 
from the government, and as in the times before the royal 
dictatorship, the Radical Party furnished its politicians 
as prime ministers. 

"LUCKY MILAN" STOYADINOVITCH 

Milan Stoyadinovitch, former private secretary to old 
Pashitch "Lucky Milan," big businessman and gambler* 
with the smile of a shrewd horse merchant who has just 
successfully cheated a competitor tried to steer the 
Yugoslav ship of state through the rough waters of inter- 
national conflict, of untamed Croatians, and of the be- 
ginnings of the great European storm. But this was not 
so easy as the successful management of stock speculation 
in the insurance business, which had brought Lucky 
Milan the trifle of 20,000,000 dinars in five years; more 
difficult than the "transformation" of the governmental 
152 



YUGOSLAVIA 

newspaper Vreme into a private company with Lucky 
Milan and Herr von Krupp as its main stockholders. 1 
Promises and goodwill gestures failed to make the Cro- 
atian opposition soften its attitude. The changed inter- 
national situation had stiffened their spines* 

From 1934 on, Nazi imperialism began to make in- 
roads in Yugoslav economic life similar to those it had 
made in other Balkan countries. The formation of the 
Berlin-Rome Axis in 1936 put an end to the foreign pol- 
icy followed up to then by Belgrade, namely, to play off 
Italy against Germany and vice-versa. French and Brit- 
ish diplomatic maneuvers encouraging Hitler to push 
toward the East and Southeast, accelerated this shift in 
Yugoslavia's course. Until then, the policy of Belgrade 
had been based upon the French alliance, the Little En- 
tente, and the League of Nations. Now, the government 
of Stoyadinovitch initiated a policy of balance, very sim- 
ilar to that of Poland. Italian and German influence grew, 
and this in turn gave the Croatians a chance to press their 
claims against the Serbs. 

DR. MATCHER AND PRINCE PAUL 

Raditch's successor was Dr. Matchek. Squarely built, not 
very tall, gray-haired, bespectacled, with a little mus- 

iThe French magazine VEurope Nouvelle called Stoyadinovitch "a 
perfect combination of Stavisky, Oustric, and Madame Hanau," the heroes 
of the three biggest financial scandals of the post-war history of France. 
Stoyadinovitch had been a rich man before he became Prime Minister. 
As president of the Belgrade Stock Exchange he had maintained profitable 

153 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

tache he might be a Croatian village priest. He does not 
have the passionate eloquence and the vehement temper- 
ament of Raditch. Till now, he has called himself merely 
the vice-president of the Peasant Party; the spirit of dead 
Stepan Raditch is still the nominal president. 

The Balkan peasant, even in Croatia, is in many re- 
spects undeveloped and backward. This expresses itself 
in the policy of Dr. Matchek. There are many vacilla- 
tionsfrom the open threat of a Croatian rebellion to 
participation in a Belgrade government; from republican- 
ism to the oath of loyalty to the dynasty of Karageorge- 
vitch; from alliance with the progressive Serbian Liberals 
and the outlawed Communists to flirtations with Pave- 
litch and the Nazis; from the assertion in February 1939 
that "the Croats are now the Sudeten Germans of Yugo- 
slavia" to the signing of an agreement with the Belgrade 
government a few months later, and Matchek's accept- 
ance of the vice-premiership. 

In order to come to this agreement, Stoyadinovitch 
had to make room for another man of the Radical Party, 
Cvetkovitch, less exposed in the fight against the Croa- 
tians, but equally resolved to tie Yugoslavia up with the 
Axis. Still, the agreement with the Croatians, signed in 
the summer of 1 93 9, was only a truce, not a peace as was 
proven by the events in the spring of 1941. 

The changed relations between Germany and the 

connections with Herr von Krapp and with Sir Henri Deterding. In 1937 
he was Yugoslavia's richest man, with a fortune of 350,000,000 dinars. 



YUGOSLAVIA 

Soviet Union made it possible for the Cvetkovitch gov- 
ernment to alter the Government's attitude toward Mos- 
cow, In spite of a growing public demand for the estab- 
lishment of normal, even friendly, relations with the great 
Slavic power to the northeast, the Belgrade Government 
had for years observed an attitude of stubborn enmity. 
This was due, in a great measure, to Prince Regent Paul. 

The Prince, a cousin of late King Alexander, looks 
like a Viennese "cafe-intellectual." His hobbies are art- 
collecting and linguistics. He is the brother-in-law of the 
Duke of Kent, and also of the Nazi prince Toering. Born 
in St. Petersburg and related to the Romanov family, 
Prince Paul was always very close to the aristocrats and 
officers of the Russian emigration who had found a 
friendly reception in Belgrade. These friendships and the 
relationship to the Tsar's family had imbued the Prince 
Regent with bitter hatred for the Bolsheviks. "He cannot 
forget the confiscation of the beautiful Demidov estates," 
wrote a French diplomat after an interview with the 
Prince Regent in 1938, "whence a good deal of his bitter 
feelings against the Soviets." 

Paul's hatred was shared by a second member of the 
Regency Council, Patriarch Varnava, a member of the 
old Russian Orthodox hierarchy. With Varnava dead and 
the Second World War unleashed, and the danger of in- 
vasion coming nearer, Prince Paul gave up his angry re- 
sistance, and the Belgrade government hurried to turn to 
friendly relations with the Soviets. 

*55. 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 
NAZI SHADOWS OVER BELGRADE 

At the same time, however, fascist methods in the realm 
of foreign and internal policy were continued. Although 
Milan Stoyadinovitch was sent to the little town of Rud- 
niki, to be confined there, it turned out later that the 
only conflict between Lucky Milan and the Cvetkovitch 
Government was over the tempo of Nazification, In com- 
pliance with Nazi wishes, the Belgrade Government de- 
livered the grains, foodstuffs, and raw materials of Yugo- 
slavia to the Axis; with the result that the cost of living 
jumped every month, and that a shortage of materials in 
industry caused considerable unemployment. The re- 
forms promised by the Cvetkovitch-Matchek Cabinet in 
August 1939 freedom f P ress an( ^ assembly were not 
forthcoming. The Cabinet governed without Parliament, 
and all elections were postponed. The Government even 
went so far as to adopt anti-Semitic decrees, and to close 
the universities when the students protested against the 
breaking of all its promises. 

When, in the last days of March 1 941, the Cvetkovitch 
Government, after having signed a pact of adherence 
with the Axis, was smashed by a coup led by General 
Dushan Simovitch, the latter and his Government could 
not save Yugoslavia. They were in the same position as, 
a year before, Mandel and Reynaud had been in France. 

Honest nationalists, and personally opposed to Nazism, 
they had for too long a time witnessed in silence the de- 
struction of the anti-fascist, forces within the country. 
i 5 6 



YUGOSLAVIA 

When they came to power, they discovered that fascism 
could be opposed only when the people felt that there 
was something worth defending. Liberty inside Yugo- 
slavia had been trampled for too many years. The men 
who finally called upon the people to stand up in defense 
of national independence had done too little to strengthen 
it from within. 

So the collapse came with merciless rapidity. 



PART III 



Of Storms to Gome 
and Seeds of the Future 



CHAPTER IO 



THE SLEEPING GIANT 

"The peasant, this Robespierre <with one head and 
twenty million arms. . . ." 

BALZAC 



In the fall of 1936 I heard Eleutherios Venizelos talk 
about what he called the "fatal question of Southern 
Europe" to a small group of journalists and writers in 
Paris. The Tiger of Crete was then an old man, defeated 
and broken, already marked for death. He spoke in a 
low voice, with tired gestures. Only toward the end of 
his discourse did the old passionate temperament flare up. 
He blamed himself for not having brought the "Big 
Four" of the Versailles Peace Conference Wilson, 
Lloyd George, Clemenceau, Orlandoto an under- 
standing of the peasant Southeast of Europe. He saw the 
clouds of a new world war looming over the horizon, 

161 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

and he ventured the prophecy that "the peasant countries 
of Southern Europe, from the Balkans up to the Carpa- 
thians and Sudetes, and farther up to the Baltic Sea, will 
play a decisive role in that war; and even more, in the ar- 
ranging of peace after that war. The status of Central and 
Western Europe will depend on the position and dispo- 
sition of those countries, on the solution of the question 
of the peasant Southeast, in and after the war." 

RURAL EUROPE 

The fact that the Balkan countries and the adjoining areas 
of the Danube Basin what might be called the Middle 
East of Europehave a total population more than three- 
quarters peasant is indeed of the utmost importance and 
involves primary problems whose importance has for 
long been greatly underestimated. 1 

This mass of several dozen millions constitutes the fast- 
est-growing population of Europe, with the exception of 
the European parts of the Soviet Union. One hundred 
and fifty years ago, only an eighth of Europe's inhab- 
itants lived in this region, whereas today the figure is 
between a quarter and a third. 

Until almost the present day the peasant millions of 
Southeastern Europe have remained a "sleeping giant." 

1 The percentages of peasantry in the populations of the Balkans and 
some adjoining areas to the northeast are as follows; Albania, oo; Bulgaria, 
82; Turkey, 81; Rumania, 81; Yugoslavia, 76; Greece, 67; Slovakia, 59; 
Hungary, 58; German-occupied Poknd, the so-called General Govern- 
ment of Poland, 58; Bohemia and Moravia, 45. 

162 



THE SLEEPING GIANT 

As the report of an American Balkan observer, Professor 
J. S. Roucek of New York University, puts it: 

The masses of the people count politically for little in the 
lives of the countries. The world of which the modern Bal- 
kans are a part, is outside their scope. They have almost no 
share in it, except by grudgingly giving up their taxes and 
serving in the armies. They live by what centuries of experi- 
ence have taught them to be the way of man under the sun. 
Humility, obedience, deference these are their lot, and 
man's lot has been fixed as the course of the sun and the 
stars is fixed. Still, the Balkan peasant is becoming restive. 
The World War and Russian Revolution have aroused the 
peasantry to a sense of political power, and it begins to 



move." 



HUMAN VALUES IN THE BALKANS 

What is the peasant's life like in most of the Balkan and 
adjoining areas? The American reader can hardly imagine 
the depths of poverty and the measure of misery which 
confine the life of the Balkan peasant to a stony, steep, 
almost invisible goat path in the Karst Mountains or in 
the Macedonian highlands. 

What F. T. Birchall wrote at the end of 1937 in the 
New York Times about the Yugoslav peasant, is true for 
his Bulgarian, Albanian, Rumanian, and Grecian brother: 
"They have meat only once a week. Their clothing is 
patched and worn to the last thread, and their children 
are underfed and go barefooted." 

163 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

On the Dalmatian shores the sea provides fish, but 
I have seen villages which contained only one overcoat 
and one pair of boots for all its men. At the other end of 
this southeastern area, in Carpathian Russia, formerly 
Chechoslovakian and today under Hungarian occupa- 
tion, I remember hungry peasant children spitting out the 
sugar given them by a Red Cross mission because they 
had never tasted anything sweet. To this very day you 
can see the "cocoa doors" of villages on the Verchovina 
Plain where the peasants, ignorant of the use of the cocoa, 
distributed to them by relief agencies, took it for brown 
paint and daubed the doors of their huts with it. 

A recent medical survey found that 40 percent of the 
young men in all Dalmatian villages were unfit for mili- 
tary service because of tuberculosis and malaria brought 
on by malnutrition and poor housing. Thirty percent of 
all rural dwellings in Rumania are built of mud and clay 
and consist of but a single room for men and cattle. In 
Macedonia you may find in every village huts perched on 
four stilts, woven of switches, plastered with mud, and 
covered with straw. Even in Croatia there is for the most 
part only one bed for each entire peasant family. In Bul- 
garia, Rumania, Albania, Greece, Macedonia, and Serbia, 
the majority of the peasants do not know mattresses or 
even straw sacks; their beds are mere wooden planks, 
often simply the floor, with a stone to serve as pillow. 

From the Carpathians to the Adriatic the main food is 
a sort of boiled cornmeal pudding called mamallga in Ru- 
mania, polenta in Dalmatia, and pura in Bosnia. This is 
164 



THE SLEEPING GIANT 

the bread of the Balkans. Many of the peasants never eat 
meat. I once heard a young woman in Rumania sigh: "I 
wish I could once know the taste of pork." Since she was 
in the very act of feeding a pig, I asked in astonishment 
how it came that she had never tasted it. The answer was: 
"The pig is being raised to pay taxes." 

Onions and garlic are both primary foods and delica- 
cies. A Bulgarian peasant family will consume an average 
of 120 pounds of onions and 60 pounds of garlic a year. 
On the other hand, an old Macedonian children's song 
goes: "The angels smell sweet of onions." 

Eggs, like pigs, are a sort of currency in peasant coun- 
tries. The Rumanian peasant has to collect sixty eggs to 
buy two pounds of oil, besides which it often takes him a 
whole day to reach the nearest city, sell the eggs, and buy 
the oil. So most Rumanian villages lie dark at nightfall 
and Rumania is the land of oil. In Bulgaria two pounds of 
oil costs the peasant sixty-six eggs, or six chickens. 

To buy a pair of shoes the Rumanian peasant must work 
forty-five days; the Bulgarian, thirty-five; and the Mace- 
donian seventy. The Bosnian peasant has to give up two 
pounds of wool for two pounds of nails, and 225 pounds 
of wheat for a pair of shoes. And the Carpathian-Russian 
buys two barrels of salt water (instead of salt) with two 
days of wood chopping. 

Matches are precious. Each match is split into four sec- 
tions for economy. In Dalmatia two boxes of matches are 
worth forty-four pounds of barley. The use of flint for 
making fire is forbidden throughout the Balkans, because 

165 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

the government's monopoly on the sale of matches is im- 
portant to its revenues. If a Rumanian peasant is caught 
using flint, he is fined from one to five thousand lei, equal 
in value to one to three cows. 

The peasant Gekov, of the village of Bistrica, selected 
by an international commission for agricultural studies 
as an average Bulgarian peasant, possesses 9 acres of arable 
land; but he cultivates only half of it the other half lying 
fallow. He must plow four times, because the soil is very 
poor and exhausted. He cannot buy artificial fertilizer. If 
the crop is good, he will harvest less than five tons of grain. 
This will give him less than nine pounds of flour a day 
throughout the year. His family consists of twelve mem- 
bers, and every person consumes two and a quarter 
pounds of flour per day. So, in addition to farming, the 
head of the family has to work in a stone pit. His daugh- 
ters, from the age of eight up, go to Sofia as servants. The 
boys are shepherds by the age of six. 

In thirsty Dalmatia, water is the most precious thing. 
Sometimes twenty-four hours of one man's hard labor are 
required to get a day's supply of water for a peasant family 
in the Karst Mountains. In the Carpathian-Russian Moun- 
tains, on the other hand, rainfall is the poor peasant's bit- 
terest enemy. Each year the autumn rains wash the fields 
from the slopes, and the peasant must restore the soil of his 
"wandering fields" by carrying it up to his land again in 
huge baskets on his back. 

Modern machinery is unknown to the great majority of 
1 66 



THE SLEEPING GIANT 

Balkan peasants. For the most part, primitive tools are 
still in use. More than 750,000 wooden plows are still 
turning the fields of Balkan peasants, as in the times of 
primitive agriculture. In Yugoslavia, a duty of 300 dinars 
had to be paid on the smallest iron plow, while the entire 
production of iron plows in the country amounted to fifty 
per year. The duty was to "protect" this infant industry 
against foreign competition. In most cases, Balkan peas- 
ants are too poor to renew their farm implements with- 
out the aid of a loan, whence comes one source of the 
terrible indebtedness of the villages in the peasant South- 
east of Europe. In 192 3, 800,000 peasant holdings in Bul- 
garia had only 280,000 plows. 

"Too poor to own a plow, or even a horse, they are 
nevertheless not too poor to work for six months of the 
year for the benefit of the most corrupt bureaucracy in all 
Europe," writes H. H. Tiltman in a study of the living 
conditions of the Rumanian peasant. 1 This statement 
holds true for the peasantry of the other Balkan countries 
as well. 

In spite of all the agrarian reforms and the laws abol- 
ishing semi-feudal conditions, the peasant of Southern 
Europe still often lives like a serf. In Dalrnatia, the Tez- 
hak, or tenant farmer, must give up one-third of his crop 
to the Gospar, the landlord. In Bulgaria, the Bezkutch- 
nitzi, f arifiers without a home, the Joads of that country, 
constituted 20 percent of all families in 1863 and 25 per- 

1 Peasant Europe, London, 1935. 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

cent in 1933. In Macedonia, the peasant has to pay from 
20 to 50 percent of his yield from sales on the market for 
taxes and bribes. In Greece, 60 percent of the yield of 
vineyards goes for taxes. A Rumanian peasant who wants 
to sell cattle on the market must pay a baksheesh on top 
of the tax. Thus, two calves may bring in 1200 lei, but 
taxes and baksheesh devour 760 lei, leaving the peasant 
with barely 40 percent of the selling price for himself. 

Peasant indebtedness has already been dealt with in 
the chapter on Rumania. Here we shall only add that, 
under Rumanian administration, 80 percent of all the 
peasants of Bukovina were in debt, 70 percent in Bessara- 
bia, and 70 percent in Transylvania. In Greece, an average 
of 60 percent of the inhabitants of every village were in 
debt. 

Svetozar Pribichevich, student of Balkan affairs and 
author of several books on the peasant in Southeastern 
Europe, has calculated that the average indebtedness of 
the Balkan peasant, translated into American terms and 
conditions, would correspond to a debt of fifty dollars 
for every member of every farmer's family. Against this 
staggering load, the migratory farmers of Bulgaria, Yugo- 
slavia, and Hungary are able on the average to earn about 
fifteen cents a day. 

To the tax collector, the landlord, the baksheesh- 
demanding official, must be added the Church. Even the 
Croatian peasant, who is better off than most of his Balkan 
brothers, has a saying: "The monk is heavier than the 
tax." 
1 68 



THE SLEEPING GIANT 
REFORM PROMISES 

Agrarian reforms were promised and passed by law in 
all the Balkan countries, but only in Bulgaria were the 
laws put into practice under the premiership of Alex- 
ander StamboKski. Immediately after his assassination 
and the. fascist putsch of 1923 the land reforms here too 
were liquidated. In Rumania, Greece, Yugoslavia, and Al- 
bania the agrarian reform laws have remained largely on 
paper. In Yugoslavia, where the union of Croats, Slo- 
venes, and Serbs had been promoted as much with slogans 
of struggle for individual liberation from semi-feudal op- 
pression as for national liberation, the land reforms were 
sabotaged, particularly in Bosnia and Macedonia, where 
the Turkish Begs had the largest estates. 

Twelve of the fifteen million inhabitants of Yugoslavia, 
are peasants, but less than four million own more than 
the i2 l /2 acres of land estimated to be the necessary mini- 
mum for the subsistence of a family of five. One and a, 
half million Yugoslav peasants cannot wrest any exist- 
ence from their soil. They have to work as migratory, 
seasonal laborers. The average income of a peasant family 
in 1 93 8 was 1 1 oo dinars, while the average taxes were 350 
dinars per adult per year. 

In Rumania, 80 percent of the sixteen million peasants 
live on properties under the subsistence minimum. In Bul- 
garia, 50 percent of the peasant population own less land 
than is necessary to maintain the barest existence. In Al- 
bania about thirty families own almost all the good arable 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 



land, while one million peasants work on poor soil or as 
tenants on the land of the Begs. 



CULTURE IN THE BALKANS 

The long reign of the Turks and the countless wars, in- 
stigated more often than not by the power politics of the 
great European empires, had a devastating effect upon 
the cultural standards of the Balkans. Even after the es- 
tablishment of independent national states, the heritage 
of Turkish rule, the Yavashluk, the method of bungling 
and general neglect, continued to exist. 

In 1834, the only carriage in the whole of Serbia was 
owned by the Prince, and even in his palace there were 
no beds. On his table were wooden plates. Complete, total 
illiteracy prevailed in his country. In 1840 there were 
sixty-rune teachers in the whole Principality of Serbia. 
The Greeks, in 1 8 3 7, already had a university, but almost 
90 percent of the population could neither read nor 
write. 

The centuries-old struggle against foreign oppression 
has bred in the peasant of Southeastern Europe a great 
love for liberty and independence. Co-operation and col- 
lective solidarity were strong weapons of defense against 
Sultan and Hapsburg, against the Begs and the vassal 
princes. Up to the beginning of the twentieth century, 
the old collective form of life and work was still prac- 
ticed by the majority of the Balkan peasant population. 



770 



THE SLEEPING GIANT 



THE ZADRUGAS 



Until 1870, most of the Balkan peasants still lived in zad- 
mgas, communities of relatives who owned and worked 
their properties together. The zadrugas, which can still 
be found in parts of Serbia, Macedonia, and Bulgaria, 
distinguished two kinds of land: inherited land, which 
could not be alienated; and acquired land, which could. 
No individual holdings were allowed. Whatever one 
member earned belonged to the zadruga in common. 
Only clothing, lesser tools, and arms were personal prop- 
erty. There was no individual right of inheritance. Girls 
who left one zadruga to marry members of another might 
receive cattle, clothing, or jewelry, but never soil, as a 
dowry. 

The zadruga was not the only form of collective life, 
work, and property in the Balkans. Tribal ownership of 
cattle land is still common in Montenegro and Albania. 
In Western Macedonia and in Bulgaria every inhabitant 
of a village has an equal right to the use of the village 
pastures. A co-operative organization of work in the 
fields is found in many parts of Yugoslavia. There is, for 
instance, the moba, in which the entire community turns 
out to aid in sowing and harvesting the crop of each of 
its members. "At the moba, the young people often or- 
ganize competitions in work which are no way different 
from the 'socialist competition' of the kolkhozes in the 
Soviet Union." * 

1 Studies of the Agricultural Question in the Balkans, Prague, 1938. 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 



PEASANT UPRISINGS 



Besides the surviving examples of old forms of common 
work and collective life, there is the memory, still vivid 
in the minds of the peasants of the European Southeast, 
of uprisings for the ancient rights, za staro pravdo. Time 
and again the peasant rose in arms to defend these rights. 
In 1 5 14, at the time of the great Peasant War in Germany, 
the Hungarian peasantry rose under the leadership of 
Dozsa Gyorgyei, who organized a peasant army, defeated 
the gentry, burned their castles, and broke up the estates, 
and who preached that "differences between men are not 
created by God, and they shall not be!" 

The Croatian peasants of Carinthia revolted in 1502, 
1503, 1513, and 1514. In 1537, another Croatian peasant 
revolt broke out, with Mathias Gubec as its leader. The 
Bishop of Zagreb finally caught him and had him quar- 
tered, but his memory lived, honored in countless legends 
and songs. As late as 1 9 1 8, when the Hapsburg Monarchy 
dissolved and the peasants of Croatia and Slovenia rose, 
a standard borne aloft in a big demonstration for inde- 
pendence in Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia, bore the 
words: "Look! Peasant King Mathias resurrected and 
liberated his people!" (The declaration of independence 
in October 1918 was, indeed, followed in parts of Slo- 
venia and Voivodina by peasant attacks on the castles of 
rich estate-owners; these were real jacqueries.) 

In 1784, Transylvania was swept by a peasant revolt, 
and, as late as 1907, an uprising of Rumanian peasants in 
772 



THE SLEEPING GIANT 

Wallachia had to be quelled by a hundred thousand Prus- 
sian-drilled troops of the Hohenzollern prince, King 
Carol of Rumania. 

All the Raya uprisings against the Sultan were peasant 
revolts. The main burden of the fight for independence 
of the Balkan countries lay on the shoulders of serf -like 
farmers, of poor shepherds turned Klephts, Hayduks, 
Komitadjis. But when they finally got rid of the Sultan 
and the Hapsburgs, the peasant millions of Southeastern 
Europe, in their attempts to climb up to a decent human 
standard of living, collided with the stubborn resistance 
of the ruling clans and the hastily built urban classes of 
industrialists, bankers, and merchants, backed by foreign 
investors. Peter F. Drucker, author of The End of Eco- 
nomic Man and a student of Southeastern European ques- 
tions, has analyzed the peasants' attitude toward capital- 
ism in an article that deserves a lengthy quotation: 

The Mid-Eastern peasant ... is anti-capitalist insofar as 
he opposes concentration of wealth and tendencies to make 
money the yardstick for the whole economic life. . . . The 
industrialization of the peasant countries, and the invasion 
of finance capitalism after 1918, appeared to the peasants, 
therefore, as a brutal assault upon their hard-won liberties, 
and as exploitation fully as bad as anything done by their 
former rulers. The result of this clash between the prin- 
ciples and political and social realities of peasant Europe 
is the deep gulf which separates, not only the people and 
their rulers, but also the people and their state. It is a moot 
question whether the peasants in 1938 were worse off or bet- 

173 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

ter off than in 1913. But it is certain that the peasants resent 
what they regard as treachery of their own rulers more 
than the ill treatment meted out by their former oppressors, 
of whom, after all, nothing better was expected. . . . 

The [Balkan] dictators, with their retinue of court offi- 
cials, officers, bureaucrats, bankers, and industrialists, are 
as much foreigners in their own country as the Lombard 
bankers were in medieval England. They have, therefore, to 
fall back upon one or two of the many tribal groups, with 
the result that there is real discrimination against the mem- 
bers of other groups. . . * 

The overwhelming majority of the population being 
peasants, no government could maintain itself in these coun- 
tries against their organized opposition, regardless of police 
terror, election maneuvers, and ballot stuffing. And in every 
one of the peasant countries, except Hungary, the peasant 
parties actually ruled for considerable periods. . . . 

Since their fall, the peasant masses have had no share in 
the government and no influence in the shaping of their own 
destinies. They are a sullen, bewildered, and embittered op- 
position in their own countries, which are run on principles 
which, from the peasant point of view, seem to deny the 
rights and even the existence of the human being known as 
peasant. 1 



THE FUTURE OF THE PEASANT 

The development of the present war has brought into its 
orbit all the peasant countries of Southeastern Europe. 

1 Harpers Magazine, April 1940. 

>74 



THE SLEEPING GIANT 

Dynasties have been shattered, state forms have been 
broken. Foreign oppression has come to these countries 
in its most visible form, that of military rule. Under the 
weight of panzer divisions, of the Gestapo, and of the 
Hungarian, Bulgarian, and Rumanian vassal troops of 
Greater Germany, there may be a reign of silence in the 
Balkans, but it will be the silence of a loaded gun. 

For every student of Balkan matters, for everyone ac- 
quainted with the mood and life of the peasant millions 
of Southeastern Europe, there can be no doubt that the 
Balkans will "come back" during the further course of 
this war, that they will play a most important part in its 
final stages, and that their role will be a decisive one in 
the new organization of Europe after the war. 

For, as Drucker says: "If it is perhaps an exaggeration 
to say that the war will be won by the side which first 
offers a workable solution to peasant Europe, it is cer- 
tainly true that that side will win the peace." 



CHAPTER I I 



IN THE WHIRLPOOL OF POWER 
POLITICS 

"Where big bells ring, little bells are not heard" 

SLOVENE PROVERB 



Even in so-called times of peace the Balkans have been 
a battlefield of the Great Powers in their struggle 
for influence and position. During the eighteenth century, 
as the decline of the Ottoman Empire became increas- 
ingly apparent, the belief that it soon would disintegrate 
stirred the greedy ambitions of the other European Pow- 
ers. In j^u^&fTsarina Catherine proposed to the Austrian 
Emperor, Joseph II, a plan of partition of the Turkish 
Empire. In 1807, Napoleon and Tsar Alexander pon- 
dered a similar project. In 1833, the Tsar and the Aus- 
trian Emperor met at Muenchengraetz in Bohemia and 
discussed a secret plan for dividing the "remnants of the 
Ottoman Empire/' 
77* 



WHIRLPOOL OF POWER POLITICS 

Internal unrest and uprisings shattered the structure 
of Turkey in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. 
In 1807, the Janizaries revolted against certain modest 
reform plans of the Sublime Porte. It took twenty years 
of fighting to subdue them. In 1826, the Order of the 
Janizaries was finally abolished. This encouraged the sep- 
aratist tendencies of provincial pashas, and the Sultan had 
to fight a series of pasha rebellions. In Vidin, Pazan Pasha 
Oglou raised the standard of revolt; in Yanina, AH Pasha 
rose up against Istanbul; in Bosnia, it was Kapetan Hus- 
sein; and in Egypt, Mehmed AIL 

The Raya, the oppressed non-Turkish population of 
the Balkans, also rebelled. In 1 804 the big Serbian revolt 
began. In 1820 the Greeks took up arms. In 1841 and 
1842 uprisings swept over Crete. In 1854 *ht province of 
Epirus was in flames. In 1857 an uprising broke out in 
Herzegovina. In 1 866 Crete again rebelled. 

THE NINETEENTH CENTURY 

From the middle of the nineteenth century on, European 
international relations were closely linked to Balkan de- 
velopments, to the disruption of Turkey, to the rise of 
Balkan national states, and to the conflicts of the Great 
Powers over the Balkans. Tsarist Russia coveted the 
Straits and dreamed of a Russian-dominated chain of 
Slavic vassal states. Austria looked down the Danube to 
the Black Sea, and tried to prevent the Russians from ac- 
quiring control of the Balkans. England was possessed 

'77 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

by the idea of keeping every Great Power away from the 
Straits and of not letting any power get hold of the Balkan 
bastion that dominated the way to the Near East and 
perhaps to India. Toward the end of the century Ger- 
many began to build up her Berlin-Baghdad plan of con- 
quest, and Italy and France fought for positions in, and 
access to, the Near East. 

The Balkan peoples, on the eve of liberation, or already 
half -independent, made several attempts to establish a 
union or federation. The Serbian writer Garashanin 
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the small principality- 
drew up a plan for a Balkan Union "free from the Haps- 
burgs and the Tsar," Consequently he was forced out of 
office by the joint efforts of Vienna and St. Petersburg. 
Back in office in the sixties he concluded pacts of friend- 
ship and assistance with Montenegro, Greece, and Ru- 
mania. From his "Program of Political Relations of the 
Serbo-Bulgars or Bulgaro-Serbs or their Entente Cor- 
diale" a Yugoslav Empire was to emerge in alliance with 
Greece and Rumania. This plan was frustrated by all the 
Great Powers. 

No, the Great Powers did not look with friendly eye 
upon these alliances. Although they had themselves fos- 
tered and continued to foster various uprisings in the 
Balkans, they were at the same time filled with a deep dis- 
trust of the revolutionary energies which they had often 
used as tools for disrupting the Turkish Empire. The fate 
of the Balkan peoples themselves was of no concern to the 
Great Powers. Help was given and withdrawn, ideals 
'7* 



WHIRLPOOL OF POWER POLITICS 

were invoked and dismissed, according to the changing 
interests and tactics of each power. 

The specter of the French Revolution was still haunt- 
ing the memories of the state chancelleries when the 
Greeks rose up for their independence in 1820. The Holy 
Alliance concluded by the Tsar, the Hapsburg Emperor, 
and the Prussian King after the defeat of Napoleon, 
rested on the principles of legitimacy and monarchy, 
both of which were endangered by the Greek uprising' 
The English Crown in this case sympathized with the 
Holy Alliance. Had it not been for public opinion, 
stirred up by a mighty Philhellenic emotion, the govern- 
ments of the "Christian powers" would have actively 
joined with the Mussulmans in crushing the Greek revolt. 

Strange indeed were some of the ways of power poli- 
tics. In 1 8 2 9 an army of the Tsar, under General Diebitch, 
crossed the Balkan range to march against Istanbul. The 
Bulgarian peasants thereupon rose against the Turks in 
order to help the Russians. In the region of Sliven, a Hay- 
duk chieftain, Georgi Mamartcheff, called upon the 
people for a general uprising, but the Tsar, having mean- 
while made peace with the Sublime Porte, gave orders to 
General Diebitch to "point his guns at the Bulgars" if 
they "should not remain quiet." Four years later, the Tsar 
having by this time entered into a treaty of mutual assis- 
tance with the Turks, Russian troops were being landed 
in the Bosporus to help the Sultan quell an Egyptian 
revolt. 

Metternich of Austria, the representative of the Vor- 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

maerz (pre-March) the black period of reaction before 
the revolutionary year of 1 848 rejected with horror the 
idea of using the uprisings of the Christian Rayas in the 
Pashalik of Belgrade in order to make territorial gains 
there. His "pen," Frederic Gentz, wrote in the year of 
the declaration of Greek independence: "The rule of the 
Sultan is based on the commonly recognized right of con- 
quest and legitimacy." And when the Greek Klephts of- 
fered to come to the aid of Prince Milosh Obrenovitch of 
Serbia in his struggle against the Turks, Austria exerted 
strong pressure on him to decline "revolutionary sup- 
port." 

Strange also are the bedfellows of power politics. In 
1837, for instance, Prince Milosh Obrenovitch, being in 
the pay of the Hapsburgs, stubbornly resisted the ad- 
vances of His Majesty the Tsar of all the Russians. There- 
after, Tsarist agents encouraged the democratic opposi- 
tion in Serbia, with moral and financial support, to make 
life uncomfortable for Prince Milosh. On the other hand, 
the British Consul in Belgrade strongly advised Prince 
Milosh to continue to rule in an absolute manner. 

In 1853 the Government of St. Petersburg presented 
to London a project for the partitioning of Turkey. This 
was rejected, and England, with the help of France, 
Turkey, and Piedmont, instead waged war upon Russia 
in order to push her out of the Balkans. In the Peace of 
Paris of 1856, which ended the so-called Crimean War, 
Russia had to return Bessarabia to Turkey; give up her 
protectorate over Moldavia and Wallachia, XVhich were 
180 



WHIRLPOOL OF POWER POLITICS 

put under a joint guarantee of the European Powers; and 
destroy all her naval bases in the Black Sea. There is 
hardly a more absurd example of imperialist power poli- 
tics than this war and this peace, which united Western 
Christian Europe in an effort to preserve the decaying 
Ottoman Empire, to cut Russia off from its own sea, and 
to defer the liberation of the Balkan peoples. 

The order established by the Paris Peace Congress did 
not last long. The powers quickly came into new con- 
flicts in different groupings. France and Austria quar- 
reled over Italy, and Napoleon III flirted for a while 
with the idea of using Serbia against Austria and Russia. 
But he soon dropped this plan, preferring to obtain Aus- 
trian support in his differences with Prussia. Austria, 
more and more disturbed by the activities of her national 
minorities, now saw in the preservation of Turkey a 
means of curbing the development of nationalist senti- 
ments in the Balkans, and therefore a means of diminish- 
ing her own internal troubles. At the same time, how- 
ever, Austria sought revenge for the defeat she had suf- 
fered in the war against Prussia in 1866 and accordingly 
made advances to Russia. But Russia now wanted the de- 
struction of the Ottoman Empire, not its preservation. 

In 1867, the allied governments of Greece, Rumania, 
and Serbia were on the brink of a war to liberate the 
Bulgars, the Macedonians, the Epirots, and the Cretans. 
The Great Powers intervened. War was forbidden the 
little ones. The Porte was forced to grant autonomy to 
Crete, some concessions to Russia. 

181 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

In 1875, a Bosnian revolt created new troubles for the 
Great Powers. Officially, all of them directed their con- 
suls to intervene in favor of a restitution of order under 
Ottoman rule. Secretly, however, the Russian Consul in 
Ragusa, Dalmatia, sent foodstuffs, money, and arms to 
the insurgents, via Montenegro. And the British Am- 
bassador to the Sublime Porte wrote to his Foreign Min- 
ister: "The Turks consider the conduct of Austria to be 
highly equivocal and open to suspicion. They are claim- 
ing that all arms and ammunition for the insurgents come 
from Austrian territory." 

By that time the Austrian Government had made up 
its mind to occupy Bosnia and Herzegovina. Unwilling to 
grant concessions to its own Slavic peoples, it endeavored 
to preclude the possible danger of attraction on the part 
of a powerful Serbia by preventing the formation of such 
a state. On the other hand, it wished to tie Serbia to Aus- 
tria as a safeguard against the growing Russian influence 
in the Balkans. This led to an entirely ambiguous policy 
of half -promises to Serbia, the bribing of the Belgrade 
Prince, and preparations for the military occupation of 
Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

In 1 877, the Tsar again went to war against the Sultan, 
but in doing so he firmly refused all offers of the small 
Balkan States to join him as allies. When, however, the 
army under the command of Grand Duke Nicholas suf- 
fered heavy reverses after its early success, and when the 
diplomacy of St. Petersburg failed to make arrangements 



WHIRLPOOL OF POWER POLITICS 

with the other powers for a "quick carving up of 
Turkey," the Tsar grew eager for the Serbs and Greeks 
to join him. The former, however, were unprepared and 
discouraged, and the latter put forth excessive demands. 
Both were also under the pressure of Austria and England. 
So only a Russo-Rumanian arrangement was made. 
Prince Carol of Rumania became commander of the Rus- 
so-Rumanian army before the fortress of Plevna with 
the promise of kingly title and big territorial compen- 
sations. 

Thereupon the British Cabinet discussed an occupation 
of Gallipoli. Queen Victoria wrote her Ministers: "It is 
not a question of upholding Turkey. It is a question of 
Russian or British supremacy." And in a private letter to 
Prime Minister Disraeli she stated: "To let it be thought 
that England will submit Egypt being under Russia, 
would be to abdicate the position of Great Britain as one 
of the Great Powers . . . and another must wear the 
crown if this is intended." 

In secret negotiations with Austria the suggestion of 
a second Crimean War to prevent a Russian conquest of 
Constantinople was put forward. Foreign Secretary Lord 
Derby pointed out to the Austrian Ambassador that "The 
Russian scheme of creating a semi-independent or inde- 
pendent Bulgaria was a danger to the Hapsburg Mon- 
archy." Simultaneously, the British Ambassador to the 
Sublime Porte was instructed to ask permission for his 
Government to dispatch the British fleet to Istanbul. 

183 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 
CONGRESS OF BERLIN 

The Tsar, under these circumstances, hurried to make a 
preliminary peace with the Sultan* But the frontiers 
drawn in the peace document of San Stefano in 1878 
were reshaped by the Great Powers, whose representa- 
tives met at the Berlin Congress under the presidency of 
Bismarck. There, England, France, and Austria united to 
prevent the formation of an independent Bulgarian State. 

Britain took Cyprus, the Tsar got Kars and the Cauca- 
sus, the Hapsburgs occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina, 
France was invited by England to take the Turkish prov- 
ince of Tunisia, and France in her turn suggested that 
Italy seize Tripoli. 

The representatives of the Balkan peoples, whose fate 
was incidentally being decided, had no access to the ses- 
sions in the ballroom of the Radziwill Palace in Berlin. 
The Serbs had to wait in the lobby. The Greeks were 
once graciously allowed to read a report and while they 
did so "the Earl of Beaconsfield (Disraeli) and Prince 
Gorchakov (the Russian Foreign Minister) slept 
soundly," as one of the Serbs reported home. 

The French delegate asked the Rumanian envoy during 
a political conversation: "What is the name of the capital 
of your country." 

"Bucharest." 

"Oh," sighed the gentleman from the Quai d'Orsay, 
"Bukhara. I have some rugs from there." 

And Count Shuvalov, Ambassador of His Majesty the 
184 



WHIRLPOOL OF POWER POLITICS 

Tsar of All the Russias, remarked to Bismarck that Serbia 
the Tsar's little Slavic brother Serbia was "une petite 
"e cachonne"* dirty little pig. 
The Berlin Congress did not solve anything. The great 
ones enriched themselves shamelessly; the necessary 
Drocess of the liquidation of the European Empire of the 
>ultan with all its rottenness was delayed; and another 
lecessary historical process, that of the liberation of the 
Jalkan peoples, was hampered. 

Help Save a Noble and Great People is the title of an 
English pamphlet, written at the time of the Berlin Con- 
press by an influential Tory M.P., Sir H. A. Munro Butler 
"ohnstone, in support of Her Majesty's Government's, 
toreign policy. The people which were to be helped and 
saved, however, were the Turks. The author of the 
pamphlet praises their "morality, politeness, education, 
and cleanliness." On the other hand, Sir Munro sharply 
attacked the barbarism of the "wild mountaineers who- 
rebel against a legitimate monarchy," and "do not bathe." 
None of the powers of course was satisfied. JChe^seeds 
of coming upheavals were sown when the delegates of 
tfie Great Powers ^^ bad^eactLgther a hearty good-byeln 
Berlin. The Austrian occupation of Bosnia and Herze- 
govina, for example, shookthe whole Southern Slav 
world From this momenToii the Serbs became impla^ 
cable enemies ot the Hapsburg Monarchy The o_ccupar. 
P^ovm^Sg^jmagined by_ the Viennese 
pvernmentj.s^^leasant "dressjwader" tumed^mjga 
be^a costlylmdmoody adventure.jVfter the pacification 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

of Bosnia and Herzegovina riots broke out in Dalmatia, 
the suppression of which took nearly one year of real 
warfare at the cost of 30 million florins. Ten thousand 
Bosnians and Dalmatians emigrated from the Monarchy 
to Serbia and Montenegro. And for years after the "up- 
heaval of Krivoshiye" regular military enrolments could 
not be carried out in the southern part of Dalmatia. 

The union of Eastern Roumelia and Bulgaria in 1885 
was greatly resented by the Tsar and by the Hapsburgs. 
But, when Austria instigated Serbia to wage war upon 
Bulgaria, Russian officers led the Bulgarian army. It thus 
became one of the first modern wars to be fought with 
borrowed armies. Or as George Bernard Shaw put it in 
his well-known play with this war as background, Arms 
and the Man: 

Petkoff: We shouldn't have been able to begin fighting if 
these foreigners hadn't shown us how to do it. We knew 
nothing about it, and neither did the Servians. Egad! 
there'd have been no war without them. 

Raina: Are there many Swiss officers in the Servian army? 

Petkoff : No all Austrians, just as our officers were all Rus- 
sians. 



THE TSAR S TRANSDANUBIAN PROVINCE 

The war ended quickly after the defeat of the Serbs. 
The Tsar, still resentful because of the "spirit of thank- 
lessness and independence/' forced Prince Alexander of 1 
Bulgaria to resign. When the policy of liberation from 
1 86 



WHIRLPOOL OF POWER POLITICS 

both Turkish and Russian influence was continued by 
the Bulgarian Minister, Stambulov, the Russian Govern- 
ment first tried to bribe him, then ordered Prince Ferdi- 
nand, Alexander's successor, to dismiss him, and finally 
engineered his assassination. It was at that time that in 
official quarters in St. Petersburg Bulgaria was called "the 
Transdanubian province of the TszrSadunayskaya Gu- 
bernia Imperatora" 

The contempt of the representatives of the Great 
Powers for their small Balkan pawns was always openly 
shown. The Austrian Foreign Minister, Freiherr von 
Haymerle, knew ten languages. Among them were 
Arabic and Persian, but no Slav tongue in spite of the 
fact that he had to deal continually with the matters of 
Austria's Slavic Balkan neighbors. "It doesn't pay to 
learn barbarian idioms," he said in a conversation with 
the British Ambassador, and the latter "joyously agreed." 
Gorchakov's successor as Foreign Minister of the Tsar, 
Giers, once reckoned that the "liberation of every Bulgar 
has cost His Majesty 461 rubles, which is decidedly too 
expensive." 

In the late eighties the Tsar frustrated a plan of personal 
union of Bulgaria with Rumania. In the late nineties all 
the Great Powers undertook "energetic action in order to 
restore the authority of the Ottoman Empire in Crete," 
which was in revolt. In 1905, a Serbo-Bulgarian treaty 
setting up a customs union had to be dropped under Aus- 
trian pressure. 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 
THE TWENTIETH CENTURY 

In the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913 the Great Powers, 
particularly Austria-Hungary, played a most nefarious 
role. Italy had fired the opening gun for the allied Balkan 
States by attacking Turkey in Tripoli. With the Turks 
busy in North Africa, the moment for an attack in the 
Balkans seemed very propitious. The Government of 
St. Petersburg, which had negotiated the alliance between 
Serbia and Montenegro and Bulgaria as a weapon against 
Austrian and Turkish influence, gave its Balkan proteges 
the signal to go ahead. The war opened with the Monte- 
negrins undertaking the first attack. In a swift campaign 
Serbian, Bulgarian, and Greek armies swept the troops 
of the Sultan from the bulk of the peninsula behind the 
Tjataldja Line a few miles from Istanbul. But when the 
victors were about to divide the spoils, Austria and Italy 
prevented Serbia from acquiring an outlet to the Adriatic, 
and thus drove her into the Second Balkan War against 
Bulgaria. Both wars were used by Germany, France, and 
England as maneuvering grounds for their general staffs, 
who tested their arms and tactics on several opposing 
sides. 

The growing imperialist conflicts centered more and 
more in the Eastern question, and so it was not by chance 
that preparations for the great conflagration of 1 9 1 4 took 
place in the Balkans. In the outbreak, in the course, and 
in the ending of the First World War, the Balkans played 
an important part. Austria, Russia, Italy, and Turkey, 
1 88 



WHIRLPOOL OF POWER POLITICS 

four of the six big European belligerents, waged the war 
in order to keep or to extend their imperial interests in 
Southeastern Europe and the Near East. One of the 
main causes of the collapse of the Central Powers was the 
desertion of the Slavic nationalities from the Hapsburg 
Monarchy. The Fourteen Points of President Wilson 
were principally addressed to the small peoples of the 
Balkans and the Middle East of Europe. 

AFTER VERSAILLES 

The political map of the Balkans was reshaped at Ver- 
sailles, but in readjusting it, the peace-makers created 
causes for new conflicts between the Balkan States and 
between the Great Powers. The national aspirations of 
the Rumanians and the Serbs were fulfilled, but at the 
same time new national quarrels were created. Rumania, 
Yugoslavia, and Greece had within their enlarged boun- 
daries new unsatisfied minorities. 1 The Macedonian ques- 
tion was left entirely unsolved. Bulgaria and Hungary 
were filled with bitterness and the desire for revenge. 
Economic unities were destroyed. A number of new cus- 
toms frontiers hampered economic development. The 
contest for positions of power on the part of the great 
states began anew. 

1 Up to 1940, the status of the minorities problem in the Balkan States 
was as follows: 12.3 percent of the population of Greece belonged to na- 
tional minorities; for Albania the percentage was 16.5; for Yugoslavia, 21.1; 
for Rumania, 27.2; for Bulgaria, 8. 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

In the history of the Balkans between the First World 
War and the present one there are three main periods. 
The first reaches from 1918 to 1933, the second from 
1933 to 1938, and the third from 1938 to the outbreak of 
the present war. 

The first of these periods is mainly characterized by 
the Italian-French-British rivalry in getting and holding 
stakes in the Balkans. In 193 3, the new German imperial- 
ism appeared on the stage. In 193 8, at Munich, the West- 
ern Powers surrendered the Southeast of Europe to 
Hitler. From then on the Drang nach Osten along the old 
Berlin-Baghdad road picked up fresh momentum, and, at 
the same time, the Soviet Union made its appearance in 
Balkan politics as a power factor. 

In the first years after World War I, France built up 
its dominating position in Eastern and Southeastern Eu- 
rope. The Little Entente (Rumania, Yugoslavia, and 
Czechoslovakia) was set up under French guidance, and 
a network of other treaties and agreements was woven 
as additional provision for the security of France's small 
allies against the dangers which threatened them from 
irredentism, revisionism, a Hapsburg restoration, or an 
Anschluss of Austria and Germany. 

The French actions, however, aroused the suspicions 
and counter-actions of Italy, who regarded herself as the 
successor in the Balkans of dissolved Austria-Hungary. 

Unhindered by Austrian-Russian or Turkish interference, 
her policy was to extend her patronage to the peninsula, 
190 



WHIRLPOOL OF POWER POLITICS 

gaining in political influence and securing valuable markets 
for her trade. After 1924, by which time the Fascist Gov- 
ernment was well in the saddle, this policy was pushed for- 
ward vigorously. France, however, had similar plans, and so 
for the pre-war struggle for predominance of Teuton against 
Slav, was substituted a Franco-Italian rivalry for political 
influence and commercial advantage. While France was suc- 
cessful, by 1927, in firmly establishing her influence in the 
states of the Little Entente by means of loans, military and 
cultural missions, and alliances, Italy secured a position, 
which, if not strong (except in Albania) in a positive sense, 
at least permitted the harassing of her rival by counter-attack 
at weak points, and the extraction, by skillful diplomacy, of 
a maximum of "nuisance value." France, on the other hand, 
became the principal guarantor of the peace treaties and the 
status quo, and, in consequence, the natural patron and de- 
fender of the Little Ententethus furthering her policy of 
encirclement of Germany. Italy, on the other hand, frus- 
trated in the attempt to establish her patronage over these 
same states, and bitter at the way in which her territorial 
claims had been ignored, 1 became, after 1937, with Ger- 
many, the principal sponsor of revisionism in Europe. As a 
result, Italy succeeded in associating with herself Albania, 
Hungary, and Bulgaria. 2 

1 In order to win Italy over to their side, Great Britain and France had 
promised her in the secret treaty of 1915, besides the territories of South 
Tyrol, Istria, and Trieste, also a substantial part of Dalmatia, incuding the 
islands, a protectorate in Albania, and large territories in Asia Minor and 
Africa. 

2 South-Eastern Europe, a Political and Economic Survey, prepared bj 
the Information Department of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, 
London. The picture drawn by the R.LLA. is not quite complete, how- 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 



At the same time, Mussolini, whose precarious political, 
economic, and international situation had been bolstered 
by abundant British support, tightened his connections 
with Macedonian and Croatian terrorist organizations 
which had for their aim the disruption of Yugoslavia. 



ECONOMIC CONTROLS 

'The great economic crisis of the late twenties and early 
thirties shattered the economy of all the Balkan countries. 
The Western Powers, instead of giving support to the 
seriously dislocated agricultural economy of the Euro- 
pean Southeast, took advantage of the situation to extend 
their financial and industrial hegemony. 

British, French, American, and Dutch capital led in 
the control and exploitation of Rumania's main industry; 
only 15 percent of the oil industry was in the hands of 
native investors. In the metallurgical industry German 
and British investments were about equally strong (22 
percent each) . Belgian capital almost monopolized power 
plants and electric trams. Forty percent of the capital in- 
vested in timber production came from Italy, and 90 
percent of all the foreign shares of Rumanian banks were 
in the hands of the City of London. Foreign capital in 
other branches French in glass, textiles, and gold min- 
ever, since it omits the role played by England during this period. The 
admission, for instance, that "good relations were also established for a 
time (1926-32) with Turkey and Greece. . . . During this period Italian 
relations with Great Britain were cordial," is definitely too modest. 



WHIRLPOOL OF POWER POLITICS 

ing; Belgian in coal; German, Swiss, and Hungarian in 
chemical plants was relatively insignificant. 

In Yugoslavia six billion dinars of foreign investments 
were, at the end of 1938, divided as follows: Britain had 
the lead with 1190 millions; then followed Germany 
with 1270, France with 1150, Switzerland with 750, 
America with 500, and Italy with 450. The French con- 
centrated their investments in the copper, lead, silver, 
aluminum, and coal mines. Anglo-American capital was 
invested in refineries, electric generating plants, gold 
mining, and radio industries. The Germans led in textiles 
and chemicals, and, together with the British, in wagons 
and arms. Krupp and Vickers jointly operated a big arma- 
ment plant, which up to 1941 divided the output 
fraternally between the two belligerent parties. 

In Greece two-thirds of all foreign investments were 
British (electricity, transport, shipping, telegraph, aad 
banking) . France came second with interests in banking, 
port facilities, gas, and mines. American investments were 
in utilities. 

Of Bulgaria's industry and banking 42 .6 percent was in 
foreign hands. Investments from abroad were largest in 
banking, cement, textiles, electricity, sugar industries, 
insurance, and transport. Foreign capital interests were 
distributed as follows: Belgian, 27.5 percent; Swiss, 23.3 
percent; German, 13.4 percent; French, 11.4 percent; 
American, 10.9 percent; Italian, 9.9 percent; British, 1.4 
percent. 

Foreign exploitation reached a very high level in the 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

late twenties. Yields of 30 to 40 percent on foreign invest- 
ments were usual. Several international conferences, 
called to find some means of escape for the Southeastern 
States from the depression of the late twenties and early 
thirties, failed miserably. 

Economic plans, whether for Anschluss or for Danubian 
co-operation, were thwarted by one group or the other for 
political motives. As a result, the year 1933 found South- 
eastern Europe hopelessly divided against itself, disillusioned, 
or cynical, as a result of prospective failure of the disarma- 
ment conferences, and confronted by yet another problem 
in the shape of a resurgent National Socialist Germany. The 
failure of the World Economic Conference in July 1933 may 
also be added to this list of disappointments. 1 

HITLER OPENS A NEW CHAPTER 

Hitler's rise to power opened a new chapter in Balkan 
history. The growing aggressiveness of German foreign 
policy, the disintegration of the League of Nations, the 
aftermath of the economic crisis, with its stoppage of 
loans from abroad all this put the Balkans into a state of 
alarm and insecurity. 

In February 1934 the Balkan Entente was set up. 
Greece, Rumania, Yugoslavia, and Turkey signed non- 
aggression pacts, but the new creation remained trun- 
cated, with Bulgaria refusing to adhere, and Albania not 
even being asked to join. 

1 The London and Cambridge Economic Service, June 1939. 



WHIRLPOOL OF POWER POLITICS 



The French system of alliances began to disintegrate. 
The efforts of the Soviet Union to bring about a system 
of collective security failed. The Saar was given to Hitler. 
In the beginning of 1935 Laval went to Rome and gave 
Mussolini the go-ahead signal in Ethiopia. Sanctions were 
sabotaged and finally abandoned by the Western Democ- 
racies. Belgium slipped out of her alliance with France. 
Great Britain helped Nazi Germany to a navy by con- 
cluding with her (without consulting allied nations) the 
naval agreement of 1936. The ill-famed non-intervention 
policy in favor of fascist aggression in Spain began. The 
European Southeast, trembling under the blows of this 
political earthquake, hastily took stock of the changed 
and changing situation. In the fall of 1936, the Little 
Entente, though formally continuing to exist, freed every 
member from any binding obligation to mutual assistance 
in the event of attack, and allowed individual bilateral 
agreements. 

A short time before the practical death of the Little 
Entente, the strongest supporter of a French orientation 
in the Balkans, Titulescu, had been forced out of office by 
King Carol of Rumania, who smoothly shifted one foot 
out of the Franco-British camp and into that of the new 
Italo-German fellowship. 

In 1937, the Balkan Entente was practically destroyed 
by Yugoslavia's conclusion of a bilateral pact with Bul- 
garia without consultation with either Greece or Turkey. 

The fate of the Balkan States was sealed at Munich, 
when Britain and France, in a last attempt to divert Hitler 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

to the East, yielded up their traditional policy of a balance 
of power on the Continent. They not only gave the 
Third Reich a free hand in Czechoslovakia, but also, as 
the future showed, forfeited the existence of many other 
states, from Scandinavia down to the Balkans. 



196 



CHAPTER I 2 



"With Nordic Guile and 

Iron Force": HITLER'S POL- 
ICY IN THE BALKANS 

"The Balkans must be united <with Greater Germany 
in a firm -federation in various forms of semi or ap- 
parent sovereignty, economically or militarily y affili- 
ated to Germany" 

ALFRED ROSENBERG, CHIEF OF EDUCATION DEPART- 
MENT, NATIONAL SOCIALIST PARTY OF GERMANY 1939 

"A handful of force is better than a bag full of right" 

DEUTSCHE JUSTIZ, OFFICIAL ORGAN OF THE MINISTRY 
OF JUSTICE, BERLIN 



It will be desirable for a German Empire to possess the 
mouths of her rivers, especially the Danube." This 
was written in 1 844, in a not too important newspaper, 
the Augs burger Allgemeine Zeitung, in an article by a 
not too important Prussian officer. His name was Hellmut 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

von Moltke, and he later played an important role in 
building the First Reich both before and after its found- 
ing in 1871. In his article Moltke foresaw the outline of 
an empire including Wallachia, Moldavia, and Bessarabia. 

1 844, the year in which Moltke's article was written, 
was the year of the birth of an important man whose name 
is unknown to most people outside Germany and perhaps 
even within his native country, Friedrich Ratzel. This 
man was the father of a new "science," Geopolitik, which 
today is highly honored in Nazi circles, and which pro- 
vides a good deal of the material for the foreign political 
slogans and programs of Hitler, Goebbels, Rosenberg, 
and Ribbentrop. It was Friedrich Ratzel who first pointed 
out the political values of space, Lebensraum: "Every 
people has to be educated up from smaller to larger space 
conceptions, and the process has to be repeated again and 
again to prevent the people from sinking back into the 
old small space conceptions." 

When Ratzel died in 1904, the Wilhelmian Empire 
had just set out on its southeastern drive along the Berlin- 
Baghdad line. 

/ 

BERLIN-BAGHDAD 

Shortly after the unification of Germany in 1871 the 
powerful Deutsche Bank organized a new Turkish rail- 
road company in Anatolia. Britain, eager to thwart the 
designs of the Tsarist foreign policy in the Near East, 
helped the German bank to obtain a concession from the 
298 



HITLER'S POLICY IN THE BALKANS 

Turkish Government for the construction of a railroad 
from Istanbul to Baghdad. But it took thirty years of 
dickering before the concession agreement was ratified in 
1903, the British having become more and more suspi- 
cious and afraid of the new German competition in the 
fight for world power. 

The Wilhelmian project of the Berlin-Baghdad rail- 
road followed the plan of a German World Empire along 
the so-called Eurasian Axis. This axis, running from 
Hamburg to Istanbul and Basra on the Persian Gulf, is 
the shortest land route between the North Sea and the 
Indian Ocean. It traverses two of the richest oil deposits 
in Rumania and Iraq, and some of the best wheat-produc- 
ing and cattle-raising territories of the European South- 
east and Asia Minor. Colonel E. Moravec, an authority on 
strategy, formerly of the General Staff of the Czecho- 
slovak Army and now a guest professor at the Berlin 
Military Academy, wrote a few years ago: "The ideal 
of the German strategy of power is the conquest of the 
Eurasian Axis . . . Germany's push along this axis to 
the Indian Ocean was stalled for twenty years in 1918. 
Today it is resumed." 

Wilhelm's project came to an end in the ruins of 1918. 
But with the emergence of the Third Reich and its grow- 
ing armaments and prestige, gained thanks to the weak- 
ness and connivance of the Western Powers in their de- 
sire to find a "sword against the Bolsheviks," the old pan- 
Germanic plan of imperial conquest in the Southeast was 
again resuscitated. 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

Rudolf Hess, who was born in Egypt and who was 
deputy leader of the Nazi Party up to the time of his 
dramatic descent from the skies on Scotland in May 1 941 , 
especially favored all plans for the conquest of the Near 
East. He sponsored the new airlines opened in 1938 and 
1 93 9, from Berlin via Athens to Baghdad. 

His old friend, Colonel Hans Rohde, one of the most 
enthusiastic supporters of the Berlin-Baghdad railroad 
project was appointed in 1938 military attache of the 
Reich in Iran. 

Pointing to the European Southeast, Asia Minor, and 
part of Africa, Hitler proclaimed: "There are immense 
areas of unused land which only await the cultivator. 
They are not set aside by nature for a certain nation or 
race as reserve areas for the future. This soil is for that 
people which is strong enough to seize it and industrious 
enough to cultivate it. Nature knows no political bounda- 
ries. First she places life on this globe, and then watches 
the free interplay of forces. Then the strongest in courage 
and industry, as her favorite, is given the right to be Lord 
of existence." 



FOUR PRINCIPLES OF NAZI CONQUEST 

The policy followed by the Third Reich in the Balkans 
had four main aspects. It worked, first, through various 
indigenous fascist movements and revisionist groups. 
Secondly, it used the German minorities as a tool. 
Thirdly, it sought energetically to make the Balkan coun- 
200 



HITLER'S POLICY IN THE BALKANS 

tries dependent on the Reich through economic action. 
Finally, it utilized the reactionary trend in British and 
French foreign policy which opened the way to Hitler 
for great inroads in the Southeast. 

At Munich, the Western Powers surrendered to Hitler 
their strongest Central European position, Czechoslo- 
vakia. But as though that were not enough, a few weeks 
later the French Ambassador in Germany, Coulondre, in 
summing up a number of interviews with Ribbentrop, ad- 
vised that, inasmuch as the eastward drive of the Third 
Reich was scheduled for the next spring, it would be well 
to give Hitler a free hand in the remainder of Czecho- 
slovakia in order to grant him "the necessary maneuver- 
ing space." The Franco-German Non- Aggression Pact, 
and the negotiations of Sir Nevile Henderson and Sir 
Horace Wilson with Ribbentrop and Hitler, were in 
line with this advice. 



RUMANIA FIRST STEPPING STONE 

Hitler made prompt use of the green light. On February 
24, 1939, he drew Hungary into the Axis. On March 15, 
he established a Protectorate over Bohemia and Moravia 
and took Slovakia under his protection. The next step- 
ping stone in Southeastern Europe was Rumania. There 
the fascist groups had pressed for several years for an 
orientation towards Berlin and Rome. The Iron Guard, 
the Rumanian Front of Vaida-Voevod, the National 
Christian Party of Goga and Cuza, and the National Cor- 

20 1 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

poratists League of Manoilescu, all drew their financial 
support from Berlin. The strong German minority in 
Transylvania was tightly organized in the same manner 
as the Henlein Party in the Sudeten territory of Czecho- 
slovakia. 

The first Nazi organization, NEDR (Nationale Emeu- 
erungsbewegung der Deutschen Rumaniens Nations! 
Renaissance of the Germans of Rumania), was disbanded 
after the assassination by members of the Iron Guard of 
Prime Minister Duca. But immediately thereafter a new 
German party, the Deutsch-Rumanische Volkspartei 
(German-Rumanian People's Party) , was set up. In addi- 
tion, a Kulturbund and many other "fraternal organiza- 
tions" operated under the supervision of Dr. Fabricius, 1 
representative of the Verein fur das Deutschtum im 
Ausland, the central organization for Nazi activities 
abroad situated in Stuttgart. 

King Carol, although in a personal feud with one of the 
fascist groups, the Iron Guard, had been driven toward 
the Axis by the simple fact that he had established and 
kept his dictatorship through fascist methods. One week 
after Hitler's march into Prague, Carol signed a new 
German-Rumanian trade agreement, giving Germany an 
almost complete monopoly on Rumanian foreign trade. 

Under this agreement Rumania had to intensify her 
production of fodder, oleaginous plants, and soya beans 
for the Reich. Timber production was to be developed, 

iNot to be confounded with Major Fabricius, military attache in 
Belgrade. 



202 



HITLER'S POLICY IN THE BALKANS 

and measures were taken for the scientific exploitation of 
forests. Mixed Rumanian-German companies had to 
be established for the exploitation of minerals in the 
Dobrudja and Banat regions. German machinery was to 
be provided for Rumanian mines. Finally, provision was 
made for collaboration in all industrial and financial 
spheres, and for delivery of new and greater quantities of 
oil to Germany. 

Besides political pressure, Hitler could bring to bear 
the heavy weight of economic factors. The percentage of 
the Rumanian imports that came from Germany had 
risen from 23.6 in 1932, to 48.5 in 1938. The percentage 
of Rumanian exports that went to Germany had risen 
from 12.5 to 35.9. Rumania had a big clearing balance to 
her credit at the Reichsbank, and Germany did not give 
Rumania any free exchange. Rumanian credit was used 
to purchase German supplies of certain "colonial prod- 
ucts," armaments, industrial commodities, and ma- 
chinery. 

YUGOSLAVIA FLIRTS WITH THE AXIS 

Yugoslavia had been flirting with the Axis since 1936, 
when Milan Stoyadinovitch, big businessman and friend 
of German as well as British industrialists and financiers, 
inaugurated his foreign policy of "balance between the 
Axis and the Western Powers." 

The German minority, as well as the native fascist 
parties Zbor and the Yugoslav Nationalist Movement, 

203 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

tinder the leadership of Yevtitch and Lyotitch respec- 
tively; and later the Blue Shirts of Stoyadinovitch re- 
ceived financial support from the Reich and supported 
the Reich's policy. As in other countries a Kulturbund 
for the German minority was founded in Yugoslavia 
under directions coming from Berlin. In 1938 this organ- 
ization numbered about 160,000 members out of a total 
German population of 550,000. The activities of the 
Nazis in Yugoslavia were planned and directed by 
Consul-General F. Neuhausen and Major Fabricius, 
military attache at Belgrade. German aid was also ex- 
tended to native fascist groups to such an extent that even 
the kerchiefs of the uniforms for the Blue Shirt Youth 
Movement, Yugoras, were supplied by German factories. 
Vreme, Stoyadinovitch's big daily, was supplied with 
paper from the plants of Hitler's Voelkischer Beobachter. 
That neither uniforms nor paper was paid for goes with- 
out saying. Threads were also spun between Berlin and 
the Croatian opposition within the country and in exile. 

The first prominent Nazi leader to visit Yugoslavia was 
Captain Roehm, chief of the Storm Troopers, who was 
prevented from continuing his Yugoslav contacts by his 
sudden death in the bloody July executions of 1934. 
Goering made several diplomatic trips to Belgrade and 
spent his honeymoon in Dalmatia. Prince Paul was his 
hunting guest in Schorfheide and a photograph of the 
tubby Reichsmarshal stood on the writing desk 'of the 
dapper Yugoslav Regent. 

The Belgrade agency of the German Lufthansa air- 
204 



HITLER'S POLICY IN THE BALKANS 

lines became the headquarters for Nazi propaganda in 
Yugoslavia. A high-ranking Elite Guard official, Herr 
von Riesen, was made director of the Lufthansa office. A 
special society for the study of "new Greater Germany" 
was founded under the auspices of Dr. Thierf elder, head 
of the Balkan Department of the Propaganda Division of 
the Brown House, Nazi headquarters in Munich. This 
society, Jugoslavenska Akcija, put out an endless stream 
of folders, books, papers, and pamphlets. 

Early in 1938, Prime Minister Stoyadinovitch visited 
Berlin and shortly afterwards Munich. On this occasion 
an agreement of "technical union" was concluded, giving 
Germany an all-important position in Yugoslav economy. 

The preparatory trade maneuvers of the Reich began 
with heavy purchases in 1936. Whereas, in 1935, Ger- 
many had taken only 1 5 percent of Yugoslav exports and 
supplied about the same percentage of its imports, by 
1938 these percentages had jumped to nearly 50 in both 
cases. 

German capital in Yugoslavia, which two or three 
years before had been negligible, amounted, in 1938, to 
over 800,000,000 dinars, more than 10 percent of the total 
private foreign investment. This was only partly due to 
the German absorption of Austria and Czechoslovakia. 
German firms were actively seeking strategically planned 
capital footholds in Yugoslavia and especially in mining 
properties. During 1937 and 1938, ten new Yugoslav 
companies were formed with German capital represent- 

205 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 



ing 100,000,000 dinars. Germany also bought out some 
American capital, in particular the Standard Electric 
Company, a Franco- American concern which controlled 
most of the power plants. 

BULGARIA SELLS TOBACCO AND POLITICIANS 

In Bulgaria there was no German minority, nor was there 
the possibility of arousing much of the anti-Semitic feel- 
ing which had helped Hitler so much in both Rumania 
and Yugoslavia. On the other hand, revisionist sentiment 
ran high in influential political circles, and was cleverly 
used by Axis diplomacy. King Boris, like the other royal 
dictators, had naturally sympathized with the fascist 
powers. In addition, there were two fascist organizations 
the National Socialist Party headed by Professor 
Tsankoff, and the Radnitzi also led by a professor, Dr. 
KantarghiefF neither of which Berlin found any diffi- 
culty in aiding. 

Bulgaria owed her emergence from an acute agricul- 
tural crisis to greatly increased trade with Germany. Be- 
fore 1933, only about a quarter of Bulgaria's foreign trade 
was conducted with Germany. This proportion rose to 
one-half in 1935, and to nearly two-thirds in 1938. In 
that year the Third Reich took 63.6 percent of Bulgarian 
exports and supplied 57.9 percent of its imports. Through 
its Trade Minister, Dr. Funk, Germany proposed and ob- 
tained a trade agreement under which she was prepared to 
take all of Bulgaria's products at prices fixed in advance 
206 



HITLER'S POLICY IN THE BALKANS 

over a period of as many as twelve years and to supply 
Bulgaria with all her import requirements. 

The Bulgarian deliveries to Germany consisted mainly 
of tobacco, soya beans, fiber plants, and oleaginous plants. 
I. G. Farben Industrie, the big German chemical trust, in 
1934 introduced the cultivation of soya beans, providing 
machines, seeds, and instructions. Furthermore, German 
capital acquired control of the textile and sugar industries 
and of several of the key banks. 

GREECE FALLS IN LINE 

In Greece, Hitler had no German minority to work on, 
nor were there any German capital investments to speak 
of. And though his sympathies linked General Metaxas 
to Germany, military, geographical, and economic influ- 
ences linked Greece to the Western Democracies, par- 
ticularly Britain. France and England were more firmly 
entrenched in Greece than in any other of the Balkan 
countries. Berlin spent large sums on cultural propa- 
ganda and archeological research. (Herr Bande, head of 
the Foreign Department of the Propaganda Ministry, and 
Baron von Weisenhof , chief of its Balkan Division, led 
several "cultural missions" to Greece.) And German 
trade agents were as noticeable for their numbers as for 
their activity. As a result, the percentage of Greek ex- 
ports going to Germany rose from 19 in 1929, to 43.2 in 
1938, and that of Greek imports from Germany increased 
from about 10 to 3 1 . i in the same period. 

207 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

Thus, combining economic conquest with the use of 
native fascist movements and German minorities, advan- 
tageously exploiting revisionist sentiment and race 
hatred, taking stock of the suicidal policy of the Western 
Powers, Hitler stepped "with Nordic guile and iron 
force," as Herr Goebbels put it from position to posi- 
tion in the Balkans until in the early winter and spring of 
1941 he had "peacefully" occupied Rumania, Hungary, 
and Bulgaria, and overrun already shaken Yugoslavia and 
badly outnumbered and surrounded Greece. 



208 



CHAPTER I 3 



Unwrapping a Riddle: 

THE SOVIETS AND THE BALKANS 



"A riddle wrapped in mystery" 

WINSTON CHURCHILL 

"The imperialists have learned nothing and forgotten 
nothing" 

IZVESTIA (MOSCOW), ON THE TWENTY-FIFTH ANNI- 
VERSARY OF THE OUTBREAK OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR, 
A MONTH BEFORE THE OUTBREAK OF THE SECOND 



With every turn of the political and military situation 
in the Balkans during the last two years, the ques- 
tion has arisen: what will the Soviet Union do in these 
circumstances? 

Hundreds of different opinions have been put forward 
to explain why the Soviet Union had to move into the 
Balkans, or had to refrain from making a move. Thou- 

209 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

sands of articles, radio comments, and forum discussions 
have tackled the problem of Soviet foreign policy with 
regard to the most recent happenings in Southeastern 
Europe. In countless cases, the conclusion has been that 
the attitude of the Soviet Union was enigmatic. 

But brilliant as Churchill's phrase, "a riddle wrapped 
in mystery," may be, it could be applied as well or even 
better to the foreign policy of His Majesty's own Gov- 
ernment. This government has, for instance, continued 
to support Franco financially even while he has moved 
closer and closer to Hitler; it has prevented the bombing 
of the Rumanian oil fields even as their output fed those 
very panzer divisions which smashed the British lines of 
defense in Greece. Nevertheless, the enigma of this 
policy, as of any other foreign policy including that of 
the Soviet Union, dissolves when one considers its basic 
motives and its social, economic, and historical motive 
forces. 

As for the foreign policy of the Soviet Union, we may 
dislike it intensely or wholeheartedly approve it; we may 
regard it sympathetically or critically; but, whatever our 
beliefs, we must seek its principal motives in the world of 
facts, not in the realm of metaphysics and mysteries, if 
we are to understand it. 

There are, for one thing, certain basic differences be- 
tween the nature of the Soviet Union and that of its 
predecessor, the Tsarist Empire. Old "Holy Russia" was 
a backward agrarian state with only about 22 percent of 
her territory economically accessible. Using colonial 
210 



THE SOVIETS AND THE BALKANS 

methods of exploitation within her own boundaries she 
ran amuck for new colonial territories in Asia and for 
spheres of influence in the European North and South- 
east. Among her chief instruments of conquest and ad- 
ministration were the "Greater Russian Nationalism" in- 
side her empire and the equally nationalistic "Panslavism" 
in her foreign policy in Central and Southeastern Europe. 

The Tsar of All the Russias had certain natural allies 
in the Balkans: these were the princelings and the boyars, 
with their tribes of administrators, generals, tax collec- 
tors; the Orthodox hierarchy; and a part of the ruling 
urban minorities. 

The Soviet regime has entirely changed the face of the 
country's economy. Instead of a backward agrarian state, 
there is now a highly industrialized power with a mechan- 
ized and modernized agriculture. Two-thirds of Soviet 
territory has already been made economically accessible, 
while the economic development of the remaining third 
is in full swing. 

With all its forces engaged in the huge effort of in- 
dustrialization, the building up of a gigantic defense 
apparatus, 1 the creation of a planned economy, and the 
furthering of what the Soviets call their "construction of 
socialism in one-sixth of the earth," the U.S.S.R. has no 
need of a foreign policy of struggle for colonies and pro- 
tectorates. It has plenty of f oodstuifs and raw materials 

1 Defense, as Soviet strategy understands it, is based on the principle of 
an active dynamic warfare and therefore requires a highly mechanized 
and motorized army and a mighty air fleet. 

211 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

within its own boundaries, more easily accessible and 
lower in cost than those abroad. Having abolished private 
property in banking, industry, and big estates, the Soviets 
are naturally bitterly antagonistic to those elements it has 
expropriated and which had been the main support of the 
Tsarist foreign policies in the Balkans. With the Haps- 
burg monarchy out of the way, and with Turkey changed 
from a weak imperialist competitor into a friendly nation 
struggling for its national independence, two more 
motives for old Russia's Balkan policy ceased to exist for 
her Soviet successor. Nationalistic Panslavism, too, lost 
all sense and value for the foreign policy of a regime 
which from its earliest days has denounced "the ideas of 
Russian Panslavism as thoroughly reactionary, because 
they served the interests of Tsarism and the Russian 
bourgeoisie in their policy of Russification of the Ukrain- 
ians, Poles, Byelo-Russians, and other non-Russian 
peoples inhabiting that 'prison of nations'the Russian 
Empire." * 

Lacking economic interests beyond her frontiers, and 
having no Tsarist feuds with the Hapsburgs to continue, 
nor a "testament of Peter the Great" (the drive for the 
possession of Constantinople) to force upon a Turkish 
ruler of the Balkans, the Soviet Union could afford to base 
her Balkan policy on the principles of peace, collabora- 
tion in a non-aggressive friendly manner, and cultural 
affinity. Foreign political relations, however, are never 
one-sided. The Balkan countries after World War I were 

1 Bolshevik, Moscow, May 1940. 
212 



THE SOVIETS AND THE BALKANS 

more or less dependent upon the Great Powers In West- 
ern and Southwestern Europe, and thus the relations be- 
tween Moscow and the capitals of the Balkan countries 
were determined to a great extent by the influence of 
London, Paris, and Rome on those countries, and by the 
relations of the Great Powers to the Soviet Union. 

As a result of this situation, there were, for many years, 
no diplomatic relations at all between the U.S.S.R. and 
most of the Balkan States. Attempts to establish such rela- 
tions, which were favored by the peasant majorities in 
Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and even Albania, were frustrated 
either in their inception, or shortly after drawing their 
first breath. 



BESSARABIA THE ALSACE ON THE DNIEPER 

There was, however, one special case that of Rumania, 
the only Balkan State having a direct border with the 
Soviet Union. Soviet-Rumanian relations were strained 
from the very beginning by the Bessarabian question. 
For twenty-two years the river Dnieper was only a 
border de -facto, a demarcation line rather than a recog- 
nized frontier; and for more than sixteen years no traffic 
bridged this line of separation. The "unbeatable wound" 
was the name borne by this frontier in the Balkans. 

Bessarabia was seized by the Rumanians soon after 
New Year 1918. The province had been earlier promised 
to Rumania by Kaiser Wilhelm in order to induce her to 
enter the war on the side of the Central Powers. At that 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

time the offer was "wisely refused," as the Foreign Minis- 
ter of the last Romanov, Count Sazonov, states in his 
memoirs. This wise restraint was given up after Rumania, 
having gone to war against the Central Powers, had been 
forced by defeat to conclude a peace a peace, inciden- 
tally, that was much more favorable and mild than that 
one granted by the diplomats and generals of the Kaiser 
to the Soviet negotiators at Brest-Litovsk. Rumanian 
troops marched into Bessarabia with the approval of the 
Central Powers, and at the same time with the connivance 
of the Allied missions operating in that area. Moldavian 
partisans fought the invaders but were quickly over- 
whelmed. By the end of January 1918, the occupation of 
Bessarabia was completed. 

The Soviets protested and severed diplomatic relations 
with Rumania, warning the latter of the "Alsace on the 
Dnieper" which she had produced. The Rumanians 
themselves did not consider the occupation as permanent. 
On March 5, 1918, Marshal Averescu, head of the 
Rumanian Government, signed a protocol in which he 
agreed to evacuate Bessarabia within two months. But 
this agreement was never honored by Averescu, nor by 
his successors. The incorporation of Bessarabia into the 
Rumanian State was, however, not recognized by the 
Versailles Peace Conference. It was not until 1920 that 
Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan, and Rumania issued 
a joint diplomatic document the Paris Protocol which 
declared that the seized province belonged to Rumania. 
The Soviets had, of course, not been asked; neither had 
214 



THE SOVIETS AND THE BALKANS 

the population of the "liberated and gloriously incor- 
porated province of Bessarabia." Moreover, the Paris 
Protocol remained invalid even from the point of view of 
its authors, for it was never fully ratified by all the neces- 
sary signatories. 1 

Early Soviet proposals for a peaceful solution of the 
Bessarabian question were rejected by Rumania under 
pressure from Great Britain and France, who were con- 
vinced that the fall of the Soviets was imminent, and 
thereby sought to quicken this development. But the 
Soviets remained alive, beat off all attempts at foreign in- 
tervention, and consolidated their position from year to 
year. Greater Rumania Romania Mare therefore had 
to deal with her big neighbor to the northeast. A special 
conference was held in Vienna in 1 924 to settle the prob- 
lem of the Alsace on the Dnieper. The Soviet delegates 
proposed a plebiscite, arguing that "if the Rumanian 
Government really thought that the great majority of the 
Bessarabians honestly regarded themselves as Rumanians, 
and desired inclusion of Bessarabia in the Rumanian State, 
the Government of Bucharest could have no reason to 
fear the results of a plebiscite, or to refuse to arrange one." 
The Rumanian delegation, however, rejected the Soviet 
proposal "if only because the acceptance of the plebiscite 
project would provoke differences among the Allies 
which had recognized the incorporation of Bessarabia 
into Rumania." 

1 Britain ratified in 1922, France in 1923, Italy only in 1927, and Japan 
refused to ratify at all. 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

The Vienna conference failed, and the unhealable 
frontier on the Dnieper continued to bleed. 

BRIDGES RESTORED AND AGAIN DESTROYED 

The changing European situation, the emergence of an 
imperialist Third Reich, the increased weight of the 
Soviet Union in world affairs, and the deflection of the 
Western Powers from open enmity to more friendly rela- 
tions with the Soviet Union all this had its influence on 
Soviet-Rumanian relations. In July 1933 Rumania, to- 
gether with Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and Turkey, 
signed the Soviet Convention for the definition of the 
aggressor. A year later, on June 9, 1934, normal diplo- 
matic relations between Rumania and the U.S.S.R. were 
established. The bridges over the Dnieper, blown up in 
1918, were restored. For the first time in sixteen years, 
direct train communication between the neighboring 
states was resumed. 

Negotiations for the conclusion of a pact of friendship 
and non-aggression, and a peaceful solution of the Bessa- 
rabian question, were under way when King Carol, pre- 
paring his desertion of the system of Western alliances 
and the principle of collective security, forced Foreign 
Minister Titulescu, champion of a reconciliation with the 
Soviet Union, out of office. 

This was in 1936. From then on, Rumania's "new 
course" towards fascism brought an ever-increasing strain 
upon relations with her big neighbor. A special tension 
216 



THE SOVIETS AND THE BALKANS 

was added by the constant deterioration of the internal 
situation in Bessarabia, where the Iron Guard and the 
Siguranza, the notorious political police, terrorized the 
Ukrainians, the Russians, the Jews, and the poor Molda- 
vian peasants to an extent unusual even in Rumanian his- 
tory. 

"Bessarabia has not only failed to make any progress in 
the economic and social sense, but has gone back half a 
century during fifteen years of Bucharest rule/' wrote 
H. H. Tiltman, in his Peasant Europe. 

And Edgar A. Mowrer, well-known European corre- 
spondent of the Chicago Daily News, summarized his 
experiences as follows: "In Bessarabia, few peasants own 
land. They haven't noticed much improvement in public 
utilities. They don't recall the government's having done 
anything much for which they can be grateful, and the 
dwellers of squalid Tighina, for example, can look across 
the river Dniester into Russia, and see the red-tiled roof 
tops of Soviet model villages." 

Between 1918 and 1924 no less than 135 peasant up- 
risings were recorded by the Rumanian authorities in 
Bessarabia. In the first decade of Rumanian rule, 30,000 
Bessarabian peasants were killed in uprisings and by puni- 
tive expeditions. The semi-official newspaper Rumaniaun 
stated on July 31,1933, that "as a result of the poverty of 
the Bessarabian peasants, 59,131 infants out of 94,699 
died before their second birthday." The "Minority 
Statute," based upon the obligations emanating from the 
Versailles Peace Treaties, was extended to the million 

217 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 



Ukrainians in Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina only in 
October 1939. 

In June 1940 the Soviet Union demanded the restitu- 
tion of Bessarabia and, as a compensation for twenty-two 
years of unlawful administration and exploitation of that 
area, the cession of the northern Ukrainian part of ad- 
joining Bukovina* On June 28 the Rumanian Govern- 
ment evacuated both territories* 1 American and English 
newspapermen reported that, at the beginning of the 
Soviet occupation, large numbers of peasants, and a con- 
siderable part of the Jewish population of Old Rumania, 
tried to cross the provincial border into Bessarabia. As 
G. E. R. Gedye put it in a report to the New York Times: 
"The province's large Jewish population also felt that 
nothing could be worse than continued subjection to 
Rumanian anti-Semitism." 



THE BALKAN LOBBY OF THE WHITE TSAR 

In the early years of her independence from the Sultan, 
Bulgaria had been "the Balkan lobby of the White Tsar." 
Later, anti-Russian feeling ran high in the ruling circles 
of Sofia. The peasant masses, however, continued their 
sympathies for oppressed brother Ivan on the northern 

1 Bessarabia covers 17,000 square miles. Of the population of 3,200,000, 
20 percent are Ukrainian; 12 percent, Russian; 9 percent, Jews; 47 percent, 
Rumanian or, as they call themselves, Moldavians. Northern Bukovina 
with an area of 6000 square miles, has a population of 500,000, of which 
400,000 are Ukrainians, nearly 100,000 are Jews, and the remainder are 
Rumanians and others. 

2lS 



THE SOVIETS AND THE BALKANS 

shore of the Black Sea even during the war years when 
Bulgaria fought on the side of the Central Powers. The 
peasant government of Stamboliski (1919-1923) estab- 
lished friendly relations with the Soviets. A Soviet Red 
Cross Mission resided in Sofia and organized the repatria- 
tion of tens of thousands of former White Guard soldiers 
who had fled to the Balkans. Negotiations for a trade 
agreement and a diplomatic treaty were under way when 
Stamboliski was killed and a fascist government put into 
power by the putsch of 1923. The Soviet Red Cross 
Mission was arrested; one of its members was murdered. 
Moscow thereupon broke oif all relations. 

Until 1934 Italy, who held her protecting hand over 
Bulgaria, discouraged every attempt to resume negotia- 
tions with the U.S.S.R. Even after the resumption of 
diplomatic relations, official Sofia was very cool in spite 
(or perhaps because) of the increasing manifestations of 
public sympathy for the Soviet Union. 

After the outbreak of the Second World War, the Bul- 
garian Government sought to improve its official rela- 
tions with Moscow. A trade agreement was concluded, 
an airline Sofia-Moscow was established. Soviet sports 
teams and cultural delegations found an enthusiastic re- 
ception in Bulgaria. In the Soviet-Finnish war the Bul- 
garian press and public opinion were, with small excep- 
tions, on the side of the Soviets. When in the summer of 
1940 Rumania returned Southern Dobradja to Bulgaria, 
cheering crowds gathered before the Soviet legation in 
Sofia, and the Bulgarian Government extended its official 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

thanks to the U.S.S.R. for the latter's support of the Bul- 
garian claims on the ceded area. 1 

When King Boris and Prime Minister Filoff showed 
increasing compliance towards Berlin's wishes to have 
Bulgaria sign up with the Axis, the parliamentary opposi- 
tion, which in fact represented the vast majority of the 
population, demanded a "policy of neutrality in close 
collaboration with the Soviet Union." Mass meetings in 
all the towns of Bulgaria raised the slogan: "No pact with 
the Axis! Alliance with the Soviet Union!" King and 
fascist generals, big business and reactionary politicians, 
thereupon hastily signed up with the Axis and opened the 
borders to the Nazi Army, just as, in a similar case, the 
"capitulationists" of Czechoslovakia had done in the fate- 
ful days of September 1938 when one of them coined the 
phrase: "I prefer to be swallowed by Hitler than to be 
defended by Voroshilov." 

Moscow made clear its disapproval of the Nazi occu- 
pation of Bulgaria considerably before it actually took 
place. Refuting reports to the effect that the U.S.S.R. had 
"replied by consent to an inquiry of the German Govern- 
ment concerning the dispatch of German troops to Bul- 
garia," the official Soviet agency Tass stated as far back as 
January 1 2 , 1 94 1 , that neither Germany nor Bulgaria had 

1 The Soviets accorded moral support on the grounds that, "historically, 
the area belonged to Bulgaria; that although its population was very mixed, 
the largest group was Bulgarian; and, finally, that Rumania had followed 
a policy of oppression and Rumanification toward the other national 
groups." "Bulgaria, Turkey, and the U.S.S.R.," Harriett Moore in Ameri- 
can Review on the Soviet Union. 



22O 



THE SOVIETS AND THE BALKANS 

ever approached the Soviet Government with an inquiry 
regarding the passage of German troops into Bulgaria, 
and that such a move would occur "without the knowl- 
edge and consent of the U.S.S.R." And when, in the first 
days of March 1941, the Bulgarian Foreign Office noti- 
fied the Soviet Minister that it had given its consent to the 
dispatch of German troops into Bulgaria for the "preser- 
vation of peace in the Balkans," Moscow bluntly stated 
that this move, "irrespective of the desire of the Bulgarian 
Government, does not lead to the consolidation of peace, 
but to the extension of the sphere of war, and to Bulgaria's 
being involved in it." Students of Soviet foreign policy, 
as well as Balkan experts, are inclined to consider this 
statement not so much a warning to Germany as a mes- 
sage to the Bulgarian people calculated to bear its fruits 
in some later period when the silenced and overrun Balkan 
nations will have made their comeback. 



GREECE AND ALBANIA 

Greece was the first of the Balkan States to establish 
normal relations with the Soviet Union (March 8, 1 924) . 
The government of the Greek Republic made this move 
without any conditions, following the British and Italian 
recognitions de jure but without the approval of these 
two powers, who in their relations with the U.S.S.R. 
sought to have their small protege states follow the wis- 
dom of "Quod licet Jovi, non licet bovi" 
A Soviet-Greek trade pact, although signed as early as 

22 1 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

1926, was not ratified until 1929, the delay being due to 
internal opposition and British diplomatic pressure. From 
1929 on, Soviet-Greek trade and diplomatic relations de- 
veloped smoothly. 

Albania followed Greece closely ^1924. The progres- 
sive Prime Minister Fan Noli, the Harvard-educated 
Catholic bishop, conducted the negotiations. The first 
exchange of envoys, however, was interrupted by the 
putsch of Achmet Zog. Relations were not resumed be- 
fore September 1934, and were again severed when Italy 
took over Albania in the spring of r 9 3 9. 

YUGOSLAVIA THE LAST 

Nothing in the nature of the Bessarabian question stood 
between Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union; nor were 
there differences over financial problems, such as unrec- 
ognized Tsarist debts. Nevertheless, it was not until 1934 
that formal diplomatic relations were established. 

The all-powerful Radical Party of Pashitch the main 
representative of the old Panslav program in the Balkans 
for many years blocked every attempt to improve rela- 
tions with the U.S.S.R., in spite of the great sympathies 
of the people for a policy of Yugoslav-Soviet friendship. 
Prince Regent Paul, related to the House of Romanov, 
and on intimate terms with the officers of the White 
Guard armies which had found asylum in Yugoslavia, was 
also bitterly opposed to any friendly policy towards the 
Soviets. 
222 



THE SOVIETS AND THE BALKANS 

Turkey, which maintained very good relations with 
the Soviet Union, tried hard to persuade Yugoslavia, with 
whom she had signed a pact of neutrality and friendship 
in 1923, to make a move towards the recognition de jure 
of the Soviet Government. Although the French Foreign 
Minister Briand, who engaged in negotiations with Mos- 
cow, also advised the Belgrade Government to take the 
step, the leading circles of the Pashitch party, the hier- 
archy of the Orthodox Church, and the Crown prevented 
the move at that time. 

The same factors continued to oppose the establish- 
ment of normal relations even after Czechoslovakia, 
Rumania, Bulgaria, Albania, and Hungary had estab- 
lished them between February and September 1934. fr 
was not until April 1940 that the Belgrade Government, 
aware of the dangerous situation of a Yugoslavia facing 
ever-increasing German demands, hastily sent a delega- 
tion to Moscow and signed a trade agreement. Resump- 
tion of normal diplomatic relations followed immedi- 
ately, and was met by demonstrations of approval by the 
popular masses in Yugoslavia. 

ELEVENTH-HOUR PACT 

In the critical first week of April 1 94 1 , a few hours before 
Nazi armies invaded Yugoslavia, a Soviet-Yugoslav pact 
of neutrality was signed in Moscow. Although the pact 
did not actually prevent the spread of the war to Yugo- 
slavia, it should be considered in a similar sense to the 

223 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

Soviet rebuke to the Bulgarians for their consent to the 
Nazi occupation of that country. In concluding the 
Yugoslav pact, the Soviet Union evidently wished to 
demonstrate to the Balkan peoples her policy of peace 
and friendship towards the small nationalities, a policy 
basically opposed to that of the Nazis, which, as Izvestia 
had once remarked, was contained in the word of Goeb- 
bels: "The only instrument with which foreign policy 
can be made is the sword.'* 

The demonstration of this basic difference, it is thought, 
will bear its fruits in the future. It was dramatically 
underlined by the sharp rebuke administered to Hungary 
by Vice-Commissar of Foreign Affairs Vishinsky, in his 
declaration that his government would not recognize the 
seizure of Yugoslav territory by Hungary, and in his 
added comment: "It is not difficult to realize what would 
be the position of Hungary should she herself get into 
trouble and be torn to bits, since it is well known that in 
Hungary, too, there are national minorities." Tending in 
the same direction was the prominent display in all Mos- 
cow papers of the manifestoes of the Communist Parties 
of Germany, Austria, and Hungary against the Axis in- 
vasion of Yugoslavia. 1 

The effects of the later Moscow move withdrawing 
the diplomatic status of the Yugoslav Minister, as a rep- 

1 A still more violent manifesto, in the same sense, of the Communist 
Party of Italy has been published even after the announcement that the 
Yugoslav Minister in Moscow was no longer granted diplomatic preroga- 
tives. 

224 



THE SOVIETS AND THE BALKANS 

resentative of a government that had ceased to exist, on 
the popular feelings in the Balkans should not be overesti- 
mated. There have been precedents. Dr. Z. Fierlinger, 
former Minister of Czechoslovakia in Moscow, wrote in 
1940, after having been denied further diplomatic rights: 
"Let us not confound diplomatic moves dictated by cer- 
tain tactical necessities with changes in the basic attitude 
of the U.S.S.R. towards our people. This latter remains 
an unchanged one of sympathy and friendship." 

FEELINGS AND POLITICS 

As a matter of fact it would be a great mistake to forget 
one of the principles of Soviet foreign policy, namely as 
was said in one of the official Moscow statements that 
the Bolsheviks "are the last who can be reproached with 
allowing their feelings to dictate their policies." 

Soviet policy in the Balkans, as a part of its general 
policy, will be principally determined by the desire to 
prevent an involvement in the war. As Stalin put it in 
defining Soviet foreign policy: "War would be an un- 
productive waste of our means and energies and would 
distract us for a time from our fundamental work of con- 
structing socialism." l 

1 The underlying principle of all the territorial gains so far in the Second 
World War by the U.S.S.R. is security, not conquest. Even "the war with 
Finland was waged on the Russian side only for limited strategic objec- 
tives. Its aims were not the expansion of the Soviet Lebensraum^ nor the 
incorporation of Finland, nor even economic gain." Max Werner, Rattle 
for the World. 

225 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 



To guard against self-deceptions and miscalculations, 
it seems advisable to look upon Moscow's policy with 
regard to the Balkans not as "pro-" or "anti-German/' 
nor "pro-" or "anti-British," but simply as a policy dic- 
tated by the U.S.S.R.'s own basic conditions, interests, 
and perspectives. 



22 6 



CHAPTER 14 



Conquered But Untamed: 

THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME 

"Better to be in a grave than to live a slave" 

SERBIAN PROVERB 

"Either the Balkans <will become Europeanized, or 
Europe will become Balkanized" 

OLD AUSTRIAN SAYING 



Both before invading Yugoslavia and Greece and 
after having overrun both countries with panzer 
divisions, Hitler emphatically declared that he did not 
want to make the Balkans a battlefield. 

We may, by way of exception that confirms the rule, 
believe in the truthfulness of this assertion. Hitler did 
not want to* make the Balkans a battlefield. He certainly 
would have preferred to have Yugoslavia and Greece line 

22*1 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

up with the Axis in a manner similar to the "peaceful 
occupation" of Bulgaria and Rumania, or to the "free 
collaboration" of Switzerland or Sweden. 

Swiftly as war passed across Yugoslavia and Greece, it 
nevertheless disrupted communications, destroyed crops 
in the fields, disorganized mines and factories, scattered 
skilled labor and farm hands in a word, it diminished the 
agricultural and industrial output of those countries 
which, under a "peaceful" settlement, would have con- 
tinued to supply Germany with practically all their avail- 
able materials and goods. 1 

The strategic assets gained by these rapid victories are 
certainly great, and so are certain consequences in the 
field of international relations. There are also, however, 
less conspicuous liabilities. In addition to the already men- 
tioned losses in the economic field is the fact that new 
millions have been added to the vast armies of subjugated 
nations, conquered but not won over by the Nazis, 2 And 
there may well be other "minus values" in the newest con- 
quest of Hitler, still latent today, but with inevitable con- 
sequences tomorrow. 

1 Yugoslav mines produced about 410,000 tons of bauxite or aluminum 
ore annually, 765,000 tons of copper (the largest copper production in 
Europe), 880,000 tons of lead, and considerable quantities of iron ore, anti- 
mony, and silver. Greece produced much less important quantities of 
minerals. 

2 7,000,000 Czechs; 2,500,000 Slovaks; 3,800,000 Danes; 3,000,000 Norwe- 
gians; 300,000 Luxemburgians; 8,750,000 Dutch; 8400,000 Belgians; 
27,900,000 French (in the occupied zone) ; 13,500,000 Hungarians; 14,000,000 
Rumanians; 6,500,000 Bulgarians; not including Yugoslavia and Greece. 

22* 



CONQUERED BUT UNTAMED 

At present, of course, Hitler has won a new victory and 
will certainly make the most of it. There is no point 
in underestimating this victory, in being victimized by 
wishful thinking or unsound prophecies. We should have 
no illusions about the possibilities of large-scale sabotage 
or uprisings under an unshaken Nazi regime. Nor should 
we, for instance, overestimate the nuisance value of 
Komitadji fighting in the rugged mountains of Central 
Serbia. But it may be said, in all sobriety and without illu- 
sions, that Hitler will not be able to solve the Balkan 
problem, and that the Balkans, now submerged under the 
Nazi wave, will emerge again and once more play an im- 
portant role in the hour when the real "New Order" of 
Europe will be set up in the final stages of the war and 
in the first phase after its end. What is the foundation for 
such an assertion? In order to get at it we must examine 
Nazi methods and plans for the conquest and reorganiza- 
tion of the Balkans in their "New Order." 



HALF A DOZEN NEW MACEDONIAS 

One of the most effective Nazi weapons in disrupting 
the defensive potentialities of the Balkan countries was 
the national question. The minorities were correctly 
called "human dynamite" in the hands of Nazi foreign 
policy. The Nazis have succeeded in shattering Yugo- 
slavia and Rumania largely by means of using this human 
dynamite. 

22) 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

But their "New Order" in the Balkans creates half a 
dozen Macedonias in place of the one old one. Where 
formerly there were a million Hungarians under the 
foreign rule of Rumania, there is now a new minority of 
a million Rumanians under Hungarian rule in the north- 
ern half of Transylvania, which was ceded to Hungary 
under Axis dictation. By giving Carpathian Russia to 
Hungary, the Axis created a national minority of 600,000 
Ukrainians, and by allowing Hungary to occupy the 
former Yugoslav Voivodina it created a third national 
minority of 600,000 to 700,000 Serbs and Croats. Slo- 
venia, with a population of about i, 1 75,000 Slovenes, was 
divided between Italy and Germany. And Italy gathered 
under its wing an additional 250,000 Croats in Dalmatia, 
and about 200,000 Greeks in Southern Epirus and on the 
islands under her "protection." 

The Macedonian question was "solved" in the way 
that the Bulgarian reactionaries wanted it. The biggest 
part of Macedonia became Bulgarian. It simply changed 
masters without getting national independence. And it 
may be remembered that there already has been a period 
of Bulgarian administration in Macedonia from 1 9 1 6 to 
1918 with the result that Bulgarian courts-martial had 
to work on a twenty-f our-hour-a-day schedule in order 
to deal with the flood of "Serbophile treason." When, 
later on, Macedonia was turned over to the Serbs, Serbian 
tribunals had the same trouble and often tried the Serbo- 
philes of yesterday for "Bulgarophile treason." 
230 



CONQUERED BUT UNTAMED 
THE CASE OF CROATIA 

It might seem that at least one of the Balkan peoples was 
magnanimously treated. The Croats were awarded an in- 
dependent state. But the story of the establishment of "in- 
dependent" Croatia constitutes a classical test case for 
the inability of the Axis to solve the Balkan question. 
When they set up this new state, the founders had to go 
back to the Middle Ages to find the appropriate form. In 
short, all that happened was that a feudal crown was re- 
stored. And even then, History, with an extreme of irony, 
obliged the deliverers of the new Croatian Kingdom to 
avoid the memory of its most glorious king, Tomislav, 
precisely because his name is associated with the union of 
all Croats in a Greater Croatia. Instead of Tomislav, some 
other king had to be found to lend his name to the re- 
polished second-hand crown of today Zvonimir, who 
ruled unhappily for thirteen years and in 1089 left the 
kingdom to anarchy and disruption. 

The man who was chosen not by the Croats, but by 
King Vittorio Emmanuele, the royal puppet of Adolf 
Hitler's puppet does not speak a single word of Croatian. 
But the Croatian peasants will probably console them- 
selves with the knowledge that their new king will have 
nothing to say to them anyway. The glamour of the 
freshly acquired crown and the noble connections of 
King Aimone he is a cousin of the Duke of Kent, a 
brother-in-law of the Greek King, and related to at least 
sixty members of European royal families will hardly, 

231 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

however, be compensation for the brutal injury to Croa- 
tian national feelings. For years Mussolini and Hitler have 
accused the peacemakers of Versailles of -maltreating the 
national rights of the defeated nations. Now they outdo 
Versailles In their rape of the whole of Slovenia and of 
large parts of Istria and Dalmatia which have solid Croa- 
tian populations. 

Not only is the new Croatian Kingdom a "severely 
mutilated veteran" of a nation; the new Versaillese in 
Berlin and Rome have also sacrificed every economic 
consideration to strategic ones. Thus they have deprived 
the Croatian State of all but one of its ports and have tied 
it to Italy, whereas all the trade routes and economic ties 
run in the opposite directiontoward the Danube and the 
Balkans. 



BALKAN SATRAPY 

There is no doubt about the ruthlessness with which the 
different incorporated territories will be Italified, Ger- 
manified, Magyarified, and Bulgarified. The Italians, on 
the second day of occupation, were already busily chang- 
ing Croatian names of Dalmatian towns and villages into 
Italian. The Nazis put out an official language map just 
before the invasion of Yugoslavia. This map, published 
by Dr. Friedrich Lange under the auspices of the Educa- 
tional Department of the Nazi Party, uses German names 
for a number of Balkan cities, "obviously deprived of 
their former German character/' Beograd bears the Ger- 
232 



CONQUERED BUT UNTAMED 

manized name of "Belgerad," I and Subotica is called 
"Maria Theresienstadt." In the explanatory text of the 
map there is the following statement: "The Croats make 
use of a Slavic literary language, but they are, as history 
teaches us, 'Old Austrians/ which means Slavonicized 
Germans." 

In the economic sphere, the "New Order" of the Ger- 
man "Sud-Ost-Raum" is based on the assumption that the 
basic task of the southeastern countries is to supply Ger- 
many with foodstuffs. Therefore the program calls for 
the discouraging of all industrialization; existing industry 
is to be taken over by the Nazis. 

Whereas the Nazis themselves constantly complain 
that they are a "Volk ohne Raum" a people without 
space, they will not be able to create an outlet for the sur- 
plus population of the Balkan countries. The resettlement 
of German minorities taken "home into the Reich" only 
intensified the overcrowding in other peasant countries 
taken over by the Nazis, as, for example, Western Poland 
and Moravia. The native peasant population was in part 
driven out to make room for the resettlement of these 
German minorities. News of this forced exodus of the 
Slavic peasant population in the occupied and "protected" 
territories, when it spread throughout the whole of 

1 "Belgerad," though not of course a strictly German word, is the form 
in which the city appears in the famous "Prince Eugene March," the old 
war song of the Austrian Army which has been made one of the official 
military marches of Greater Germany. It was to the strains of this tune 
that the German divisions paraded in the streets of conquered Belgrade 
in April 1941 before Colonel General von Kleist. 

233 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

Middle Eastern and Southeastern Europe, did not awaken 
any sympathies for the Nazis. 

PEASANT POLICIES 

Moreover, the Nazis have allied themselves with such 
political groups and parties as represent the urban popu- 
lation or the Junker class in the Balkans, both of whom 
are despised and hated by the great masses of the poor 
peasants. The peasants themselves could have been won 
over by the Nazis only under the flag of social revolution, 
of land reform and collectivization. But in their entire 
peasant policy, the Nazis a long time ago buried all revo- 
lutionary propaganda. 

As a matter of fact, in Germany itself they have created 
a "new peasant aristocracy" by means of the hereditary 
farm Jaw, the Erbhof-Gesetz. Professor Sering, famous 
agricultural expert, noted in a memorandum to the Reich 
Government in 1 93 7 : "The Erbhof system tends towards 
the creation of a small village aristocracy. The hereditary 
farm law has reduced the right of inheritance for brothers 
and sisters of the inheritor, so that they are worse off than 
under the former feudal system." 

After seven years of the enormously advertised Nazi 
settlement policy, the owners of large estates, represent- 
ing only 0.8 percent of the rural population, still possess 
38 percent of the arable land, whereas 90 per cent of the 
German peasants own but one-third of the land, with half 
of the owners reduced to tiny holdings and unable to live 
234 



CONQUERED BUT UNTAMED 

on what their soil produces. The list of members of the 
Reichstag, all named by Hitler from the ranks of the Nazi 
elite, contains the names of the biggest Junkers of the old 
regime. 1 

The restoration to the former owners of big estates in 
the Sudeten territories and in Carpathian Russia has 
created bad blood among the peasant masses all over 
Middle and Southeastern Europe. It is quite character- 
istic that in Poland only the magnates, the Sapiehas and 
Patockis, favored Nazism, whereas the peasants opposed 
it bitterly. 

The hardships of invasion and occupation, even if the 
latter* is carried through in a "correct" manner, cannot but 
strengthen the initial anti-Nazi feelings of the peasant 
population of the Balkan countries. There is an old love 
for independence, and an old historical experience in the 
silent hidden fight against foreign rule. 

No, the Nazis are not able to solve the Balkan question 
neither socially, economically, nor nationally. But 
neither is there any probability that a second attempt to 
organize the peasant Southeast of Europe on the lines of 
Western national democracy and financial exploitation 
and industrialization could be more successful than the 

1 Prince August Wilhelm von Hohenzollern, son of the Kaiser and an old 
member of the Nazi Party, owns 240,000 acres; Count von der Schulen- 
burg, another old member of the Nazi Party, owns 125,000 acres; Count 
Pueckler Burghaus, Elite Guard Brigade Commander, owns 100,000 acres; 
Count Helldorf, Chief of the Storm Troops of Berlin, is the owner of 3 
estates, with 50,000 acres. Count Bismarck Schoenhausen, another Storm 
Troop Commander, owns 2 estates, with 45,000 acres. 

235 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

first one undertaken in the two decades after World War 
I. As far back as April 1940, Peter Drucker, in the previ- 
ously mentioned articles in Harpers magazine, pointed 
out that there was no constructive project in reserve 
among the Western Democracies, and that this "absence 
of any constructive program for the peasant countries" 
constituted "the weakest link in the Allied armor." As 
a matter of fact, French and British policy in the Balkans 
has always been linked with the same social groups and 
political parties with whom the German-Italian policy is 
collaborating. The corrupt Liberals in Rumania, the 
Pashitch clan in Yugoslavia, the Metaxas fascists in 
Greece, the bloody generals of King Boris in Bulgaria 
they, and not the peasant democratic movements or the 
anti-fascist forces, were the allies France and Britain 
looked to in all the Balkan countries. 

Nor would the mere federal union of the peasant coun- 
tries, as is now often vaguely proposed, present a satis- 
factory solution, for these countries are by no means mu- 
tually complementary on the economic side. A customs 
union with the industrial countries of Central and West- 
ern Europe would not of itself be effective either, unless 
there were" a total change of the status of "independent 
national economies" based on private initiative and free 
or half -free trade. And such a change would involve 
nothing less than a thorough-going revolution. 

What, then, is the solution of the problem of Europe's 
peasant Southeast? There is no known simple panacea. 
All one may do in a study such as this is to indicate some 
236 



CONQUERED BUT UNTAMED 

of the points of departure of coming developments, and 
to provide a few basic facts which must be borne in mind 
when the shape of things to come in Southeastern Europe 
is considered. 



THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME 

Southeastern Europe, overpopulated, peasant, poverty- 
stricken, is ripe for a great social and economic readjust- 
ment. The agrarian revolution due since the days of the 
French "Convention" one century and a half ago, but 
sabotaged by the Begs and Boyars, by the Bratianu Lib- 
erals and Pashitch Radicals must be carried out in the 
old spirit of the movements for the "liberation of the 
peasant," but with modern methods corresponding to 
the technical and social developments of the twentieth 
century. 

The still existing remnants of feudal systems in Dal- 
matia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Wallachia, Moldavia, and 
Thessaly must, of course, be liquidated once and for all. 
But this is not merely a matter of loosening the grip of 
the magnates over vast estates; it is also a matter of a tech- 
nical revolution in agriculture. Along with the hand- 
kissing, there must also go into the limbo of history the 
wooden plow. Machinery must be introduced in the 
fields on a large scale. Scientific methods must be applied 
to seeds and crops, to cultivation and planning. This is 
possible only when the peasants, who now live on hold- 
ings that are too tiny and poorly equipped, are united in 

237 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

new forms of co-operative and collective work, and 
when their education Is not made dependent upon the 
money they can themselves afford to spend on it. The 
living memory of the zadrugas and other forms of col- 
lective property and labor will smooth the way for such 
innovations. 

The problems of national minorities can be solved, 
when the old conceptions of the nation and the national 
state are abandoned and every form of national or racial 
chauvinism is stamped out with uncompromising energy. 
A vaster unity, comprising the multi-millioned masses of 
Europe's Southeast and Middle East, and having the 
friendliest possible links to the industrial centers in the 
West and the East, will be able to grant each of the small 
nations and national splinters full cultural and linguistic 
freedom. Moreover, such a vast unity, without interfer- 
ing custom borders, will offer an ideal territory for a 
large-scale scientific and technical revolution in agricul- 
ture. In close collaboration with the (allied or federated) 
industrial areas of Central and Western Europe and the 
Eurasian Soviet Union, there will open up unprecedented 
possibilities for the absorption of the surplus population 
of the peasant Southeast and Middle East of Europe. 

As is implied in the above, every plan for the reorgani- 
zation of the peasant countries between the Sudeten 
ranges and the Aegean must take into consideration the 
weight of Soviet influence in that part of Europe. And, 
whether we like it or not, the Soviet Union is destined 
to play an increasingly important role in the fate of a 
238 



CONQUERED BUT UNTAMED 

Europe shattered by the gigantic conquests and death- 
struggles of the Nazi Reich, by the decline of the French 
and Italian empires, and by the vanishing of British power 
on the Continent. 

The meager uncensored news that trickles across the 
borders of Hungary and Rumania tells of constant un- 
rest among the peasants, and of a similar agitation among 
the workers in the Rumanian oil district of Ploesti and in 
Budapest. "Since the news of the expropriation of big 
estates in Soviet Bessarabia has spread throughout Old 
Rumania," reads a report in the Croatian newspaper 
Novosti at the beginning of 1941, "the hunger for land 
and the spirit of sedition are expanding silently but 
steadily like an oil stain on paper." And the Hungarian 
daily Nepszava reported in April 1941 that the visitors 
to the Soviet pavilion at the Budapest Exposition "plun- 
dered the big vases full of ears in order to take home a 
little Soviet grain," though the grain itself could not 
have been so very interesting in a country that produces 
so much of it as Hungary. What evidently was interest- 
ing to the Hungarians was the fact that this grain had been 
raised on kolkhozes, or collective farms; or, to put it in 
the sober words of the Budapest police reporter: "Sev- 
eral hundreds of visitors to the exposition had to be de- 
tained for making a demonstration in favor of a change 
of governmental and social institutions." 

In Slovakia the German-commandeered government 
had to issue an ordinance forbidding the "discussion from 
the pulpits, for or against, of any kind of land expro- 



THE UNTAMED BALKANS 

priation*" Behind the decree was the fact that the peasants 
in many parts had been asking if there could not now be 
a collectivization of the big estates since Russia was a 
partner in a pact with the protecting Reich and therefore 
"trustworthy." 

An English author, reviewing the Balkan situation 
early in the spring of 1941, arrives at the following: 

Very large sections of the [Bulgarian] peasants are going 
communist. The left-wing Agrarian Party always was com- 
munist, and Sofia was a center of intellectual leftism. . . . 
It is evident that the trend is now much stronger, and is in- 
deed gaining ground in the whole Balkan region among 
poor landless peasants who represent twenty to thirty per- 
cent of the total land population. Soviet propaganda is ex- 
tremely well adjusted to the aspects of this group. 1 

Southeastern Europe is only at the beginning of a 
gigantic process of transformation. After the terrors of 
war and foreign conquest and after its vast experiences in 
misery, the idea of a "social revolution" has nothing of the 
f rightf ulness which it has for large parts of the population 
in Western Europe. After all, there must also be borne in 
mind that, reactionary as they basically are, the Nazis 
have, by destroying state boundaries, driving off dynas- 
ties, and shattering old authorities, laid the ground for 
revolutionary eruptions similar to those which were laid 

1 "The New Order in the Balkans," by Fabia, in the Political Quarterly, 
London, published by Keynes, LasM, Grossman, and others. January- 
March, 1941. 

240 



CONQUERED BUT UNTAMED 

by the Turkish conquest and subjugation of the Balkans 
centuries ago. 

Peasant Europe is a field in the late autumn. Winter 
has still to come with snow and storms, but deep under- 
ground in the bowels of the earth the seed is already 
growing. 



Index 



Agrarian League (Bulgaria), 98, 99, 

ioi, 240 
Aimone, Duke of Spoleto, King of 

Croatia, 231 
Albania, 10, n, 13, 19, 20, 41-52, 94, 

137, 162, 164, 171, 189, 194, 213, 

221-2, 223 

Alexander of Macedonia, The 

Great, 33, 42 
Alexander, Karageorgevitch, King 

of Yugoslavia, 65, 144, 145, 149, 

150, 151, 152, 155 
Alexander, Obrenovitch, King of 

Serbia, 6, 139, 140, 142 
Alexander, Prince of Bulgaria, 95, 

103, 186 

Alexander, Tsar of Russia, 176 
Alexandroff, Todor (Macedonia), 

63, 65 

All Mehmet, of Egypt, 43, 177 
All Pasha of Yanina, 43, 72, 177 
American Review on the Soviet 

Union, 220 
Anatolia, 33 

Antonescu, General, Prime Minis- 
ter, 126 
Apis (Dragutin Dimitreyevitch), 

*4*-3 J 45 
Arabia, 33 

242 



Aromuns, 47, 92 

Asia Minor, 34, 69, 70, 77, 79, 80, 

82, 200 
Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung, 

197 * 

Aurelian, 35 
Austria, 8, 44, 45, 74, 76, 95, in, 117, 

131* *34 135, i39 H3, i44> H5 

147, 177, 179, 181, 182, 184, 188, 

190, 191, 205, 224 
Austria-Hungary, see Austria 
Avars, 35, 109 
Averescu, 214 
Axis, Rome-Berlin-Tokio, 4, 14, 15, 

16, 104, 153, 154, 156, 220 

Bakunin, Michael, 140 

Balkan Entente, 194, 195 

Balkan Federation, 100 

Banat, 203 . 

Banca Commerciale, 64 

Bande, 207 

Barthou, 66 

Bashi-Bazouks, 95 

Begs (Turkish landlords), 14,48, 51, 

52, 57, 60, 131, 170, 237 
Belgium, 195 
Berchtold, Count, 45 
Berlin-Baghdad (Plan; Railroad), 

33, 104, 178, 190, 198, 199, 200 



Berlin Congress, 58, 136, 184, 185 
Bessarabia, in, 125, 168, 180, 198, 

213-18, 222, 239 
Bezkutchnitzi, 167 
BirchaU, F. T., 163 
Bismarck, 185, 235 
Black George, see Kara George 
Black Hand, 39, 139, 141-3, 146 
Blue Shirts, 15, 204 
Bohemia, 162, 201 
Bolshevik (Moscow), 212 
Bonfatti, Colonel, 15 
Boris, King of Bulgaria, 65, 66, 97, 

100, 103, 206, 219, 236 
Bosnia, 10, 11, 14, 58, 76, 130, 135-6, 

139, 143, 165, 169, 182, 184, 185, 237 
Boteff, 60 
Boyars, 107, 112, 114, 116, 117, 119, 

124, 237 

Bratianu, Constantine, 123 
Bratianu, Family, 77, 119-21 
Bratianu, Jon, 119 
Bratianu, Jonel, 119, 120, 121, 122 
Bratianu, Vintila, 121, 237 
Brest-Litovsk, 214 
Briand, Aristide, 223 
Brock, Ray, 1 1 
Brown House, 16, 205 
Bukovina, in, 125, 168, 218 
Bulgaria, 8, 12, 18, 39, 57, 58, 59, 63, 

64, 77, 91-104, 122, 125, 146, 151, 

162, 165, 166, 167, 168, 169, 171, 

183, 186, 188, 191, 193, 206-7, 208, 

213, 218-21, 223-4, 228 
Byron, 73, 85 

Capo D'Istria, John, 75 

Carbonaris, 61 

Carinthia, 172 

Carol I, King of Rumania, 118, 119 

Carol II, Crown Prince, later King 
of Rumania, 103, 120, 121, 122, 
03, 124, 125, 126, 173, 195, 202, 216 

Carpathian Russia, 164, 165, 166, 
230, 235 



INDEX 

Catherine, The Great of Russia, 37, 
176 

Central Powers, 78, 95, 104, 118, 144, 
213, 214, 219 

Chamberlain, Austen, 46 

Chamberlain, Neville, 46, 86 

Charles, Emperor of Austria-Hun- 
gary, 50 

Chauleff, 64 

Christian Defense League (Ruma- 
nia), 123 

Churchill, Winston, 209, 210 

Cincar-Markovitch, Foreign Min- 
ister, 5, 16 

Circassians, 34 

Clemenceau, Georges, 79, 161 

C|ement IX, Pope, 43 

Codreanu, Corneliu Zelea, 123, 124, 
126 

Colonat, 131 

Constantine, King of Greece, 75, 78 

Convention for the Definition of 
the Aggressor, 216 

Corfu, 144, 145 

Costa Foru, 121 

Coulondre, Ambassador, 207 

Crete, 25, 76, 77, 81, 177, 181, 187 

Crimean War, 117, 180, 183 

Crispi, Francesco, 43 

Crna Gora (Montenegro), 7, 36, 
136-7 

Croatia, 13, 16, 122, 130, 132, 134-5, 

136, 145-55^ *<54> i7 2 23 1 * 2 3 2 

Crossman, 240 

Cuza, Prince, 117, 118 

Cuza, Professor, 123, 201 

Cvetkovitch, Dragisha, Prime Min- 
ister, 4, 5, 10, 154 

Cvetkovitch Government, 6, 9, 16, 
156, 157 

Cyprus, 184 

Czechoslovakia, 8, 1 14, 164, 196, 201, 
205, 216, 220, 223, 225 



Dacia, 35, 109 

Daily News (Chicago), 217 



243 



INDEX 

Dalmatia, 10, 44, 130, 135-6, 147, 164, 
165, 166, 167, 182, 186, 204, 232, 
237 

Danubian Principalities, 117 

Dardanelles, 35, 177 

DaskalofI, 64 

Davidovitch, 148 

Denmark, 112 

Derby, Lord, 183 

Deterding, Sir Henri, 153 

Deutsch Rumanische Volkspartei, 
202 

Deutsche Bank, 198 

Diebitch, General, 179 

Dwmneata (Bucharest), 113 

Dirnioi^ftvitch, Dragutin, 141-3 

DimitrofT, Georgi, 102 

Disraeli, 183, 184 

Dobrudja, 96, 118, 125, 203, 219' 

Dozsa Gyorgyei, 172 

Draga, Queen of Serbia, 6, 139, 142 

Drucker, Peter F., 173, 175, 236 

Duca, Prime Minister, 123, 202 

Duce, II, see Mussolini 

Dunkerque (Dunkirk), 11, 23 

Dushan, Stefan, 137 

* \ 

Egypt* 33> 44* 74* * 8 3i 200 

England (see also Great Britain), 

74, i2t, 174, 177, 180, 184, 188, 207 
Epirus, 18, 19, 23, 42, 43, 78, 87, 177 
Erbach, Prince, 25, 26, 87 
Essad, Pasha, 50 
Ethiopia, 195 
Eugene, Prince, Austrian Field 

Marshal, 134, 233 
Europe Nouvelle, 153 
Evzones, 19 

Fabia, 240 
Fabricius, Dr., 202 
Fabricius, Major, 15, 202, 204 
"Fatherland, All for the," 124 
Ferdinand, King of Bulgaria, 95, 96, 

97 
Ferdinand, King of Rumania, 118, 

121 
244 



Fierlinger, Dr. Z., 225 

Filoff, 220 

Finland, 225 

Fiume, 136 

Flanders, 38 

France, 74, 132, 153, 184, 188, 190, 

191; 207, 214, 215, 236 
Franco, 210 
Franz Ferdinand, Archduke, 31, 

i35 J 43> 144 
Franz Joseph, Emperor of Austria* 

Hungary, 58 
Funk, Minister, 206 

Gagaus, 92 

Garashanin, 178 

Gedye, G. E. R., 218 

Gekov, 1 66 

Gentz, Frederic, 180 

Geopolitik, 198 

George II, Kong of Greece, 21, 23, 
24, 75, 83, 84, 87 

Georghiefl, 100, 103 

Germany, 9, 12, 85, 96, 104, 117, 131, 
133, 144, 152, 153, 154, 175, t88, 
191, 193-5, 197-208, 224, 227-37, 

238, 239 

Gestapo, 175 

Ghegs, 47 

Gibraltar, 22 

Giers, Minister, 187 

Gladstone, 94 

Glavnyacha, 149 

Goebbels, Dr., 26, 198, 208 

Goering, 102, 204 

Goga, 124, 125, 201 

Gorchakov, 184, 187 

Gorizia, 136 

Great Britain (see also England), 
74* %> J 95 2 <>7 214, 215, 236 

Greece, 12, 17, 18-%, 35, 39, 58, 59, 
63, 69-88, 92, 94, 95, 122, 162, 164, 
167, 168, 169, 178, 181, 189, 192, 
193, 194, 207-8, 210, 221-2, 227, 236 

Gubec, Mathias, 172 



Haidutins (see also Hayduks), 60 

Haks, 131 

Halifax, Lord, 86 

Hamid, Sultan Abdul, 60 

Hanau, Madame, 153 

Hapsburgs, 4, 31, 58, 98, 120, 131, 

I33 I35 I3<5, i39i *7 *7 2 173. 

179, 180, 183, 185, 186, 190 
Harpers Magazine, 174, 236 
Hayduks (Haidutins), 39, 60, 93, 

173 

Haymerle, Freiherr von, 187 
Heeren, Minister von, 8 
Henderson, Sir Nevile, 201 
Henlein, Conrad, 82, 202 
Herzegovina, 32, 76, 130, 135-6, 143, 

177, 182, 184, 185, 186 
Hess, Rudolf, 200 
Hetlinger, 118 
Hindenburg, 83 
Hitler, 27, 80, 82, 86, 153, 194, 195, 

197-208, 210, 227-37 
Hoare, 86 
Hohenzollerns, 4, 98, 120, 131, 173, 

235 

Holy Alliance, 74, 179 
Horthy, 120 
Hungary, 8, 12, 73, 92, 94, 96, 109, 

no, in, 117, 125, 131, 134, 143, 

162, 164, 168, 174, 189, 191, 201, 

208, 223, 224, 230, 239 

L G. Farben, 207 

Hinden Revolt, 62-3, 66 

IHyria, 36, 135 

IMRO, 14, 60-6, 98, 101, 151 

India, 33 

Institute of International Affairs, 

London, 37 

Iron Guard, 123-6, 201, 202, 217 
Istria, 136, 232 
Italy, 44, 45, 46, 48, 61, 86, m f 117, 

131, 135, 152, 153, 188, 191, 214, 

215, 219, 224 ^' *> 
Izvestia, no, 224 



INDEX 

Janizaries, 36, 177 

Japan, 214, 215 

Jorga, Professor, 122 

Joseph, Emperor Franz, of Austria, 

176 
Jugoslavenska Akcija, 205 

Kantarghieff, 206 
Kapetan Hussein, 177 
Kara George, 138-9 
Karageorgevitch, House of, 138, 

139, 154 
Kemal, 77, 79 
Kent, Duke of, 155, 231 
Keynes, J. M., 240 
Kleist, Colonel General, 233 
Klephts, 39, 76, 173, 180 
Kmet, 131 
Komitadjis, 5, 17, 39, 55, 63, 143, 

173, 229 ^ 

Konduriotis, Admiral, 43 
KondyKs, General, 81, 84 
Koritzis, 20, 25, 87 
Kotzias, 26 
Krupp, 153, 193 
Kulturbimd, 202 

Lambrino, Zizi, 120 

Lange, Dr. Friedrich, 232 

Laski, Harold, 240 r 

Laval, Pierre, 195 

League of Nations, 45, 150, 153, 194 

Lebensraum, 86, 126, 198, 225 

Lek, Law of, 47 

Leopold, King of Belgium, 95 

Liberal Party (Greece), 77 

Liberal Party (Rumania), 77, 119, 

121, 124 
Libya, 21 v "" 
Link, The, 39 

List, General Field Marshal, 87 
Little Entente, 153, 190, 191 
Lloyd George, 70, 161 
Lubljana, 13 
Lufthansa, 4, 204, 205 

245 



INDEX 

Lupescu, Magda, 120, 124, 125 
Lyotitch, 204 

Macedonia, 10, n, 14, 18, 22, 23, 39, 
55-66, 78, 94, 96, 104, 130, 131, 137, 
163, 164, 165, 167, 169, 171, 230 

MacMahon, 83 

Mamarchefi, 179 

Manchester Guardian, 102 

Mandel, 157 

Maniakides*, Constantine, 27 

Maniu, Julio, 121-4 

Manolescu, 202 

Matchek, Dr., 9, 23, 146, 153, 154 

Mati, 49 

Mehmet, Ali, of Egypt, 43, 74, 177 

Metaxas, John, 21, 24, 26, 81-6, 236 

Metternich, 179 

Michael, King of Rumania, 126 

MihailofT, Ivan, 65-6 

Milan, King of Serbia, 58 

Military League (of Bulgaria), 100, 
102, 103 

Mine (Bucharest), 113 

Mirkovitch, General, 5 

Moba, 171 

Moldavia, 73, 108, no, 116, 117, 119, 
180, 198, 237 

Moltke, Helmut von, 82, 198 

Monroe, 73 

Montenegro, 10, n, 36, 59, 136, 171, 
178, 182, 186, 188 

Moore, Harriett, 220 

Moravec, Colonel E., 199 

Moravia, 162, 201, 233 

Mowrer, E. A., 217 

Munro, Sir Butler, 185 

Mussolini, 19, 20, 46, 52, 192, 195, 231 

Napoleon I, 36, 37, 72, 135, 176, 179 

Napoleon III, 118, 139, 181 

National Christian Party (Ruma- 
nia), 124, 201 

National Corporatists League, 202 

National Socialist Party of Bulga- 
ria, 206 

246 



Nationals Erneurungsbewegung 
der Deutschen Rumanien^ 202 

Neditch, General, 10, 12 

Nepsza^a, 239 

Netherlands, 104 

Neuhause)a, German Consul Gen- 
eral, ,15 

Neuilly, Treaty of, 96 

New Order, 229 

Nicholas, Grand Duke, 182 

Noli, Bishop Fan, 51, 222 

Novosti, 239 

Obrenovitch, House of, 138," 141 
Obrenovitch, Michael, 139 
Obrenovitch, Milan, 141, 180 
Obrenovitch, Milosh, 138 
Orlando, 161 
Otto von Wittelsbach, King of 

Greece, 75 
Oustric, 153 

Paissy, 94 

Palestine, 17 

Pangalos, 80 

Panitza, Todor, 65 

Panslavism, 212, 222 

Paris Protocol, 214, 215 

Pashitch, Nicola, 77, 119, 122, 140-6, 

149, 222, 223, 236, 237 

Patocki, 235 

Paul, Prince Regent, 5, 6, 7, 23, 24, 

152, 1,53, 155, 204, 222 

Pavelitch, Ante, 9, 14, 15, 65, 146, 

151. 154 

Pazan Pasha, 177 
Peace of Paris, 181 
Peasant Party, Croatia, 146, 148, 154 
Peasant Party, Rumania, 121 
Peasant War (Germany), 172 
Pertchetz, 151 
P6tain, 83 

Petchitch, General, 10 
Peter the Great, testament of, 212 
Peter, King of Serbia, 139, 140 



Peter, King of Yugoslavia, 6, 7, 24, 

*5* 

Petkoff, Apostol, 60 
Philiki Hetaira, 72 
Piedmont, 143, 180 
Pilsudski, Marshal, 103 
Poland, 103, 153, 162, 233, 235 
Political Quarterly y 240 
Pomaks, 34, 92 
Potirca, V., 112 
Pribichevich, Svetozar, 168 
Protogherof, 65 
Prussia, 74, 181 

Quisling, 21, 25, 88 

Radical Party (Yugoslavia), 148, 

149, 152, 222, 237 

Raditch, Stepan, 122, 129, 146-9, 150, 

i53 J 54 
Ratchitch, Punisha, Deputy, 149 

Ratzel, Friedrich, 198 

Reichsbank, 203 

Revolution, Russian, 163 

Reynaud, 157 

Ribbentrop, 15, 198, 201 

Riesen, 205 

Roehm, 204 

Rohde, Hans, 200 

Romania Mare, 111-15, 119, 215 

Romanov, 155, 214, 222 

Rosenberg, Alfred, 197, 198 

Roucek, Prof. J. S., 102, 163 

Roumelia, Eastern, 186 

Rumania, 8, 12, 39, 73, 92, 94, 107-26, 
162, 164* 165, 166, 167, 168, 169, 
178, 181, 189, 192, 194, 199, 201, 
202, 203, 206, 208, 213-18, 220, 223, 
228, 230, 236, 239 

Rutmaniaun, 217 , 

Russia, 37, 74, 79, 95, no, m, 177, 
181 

Saar, 195 

San Stefano, 58, 95, 184 
Sapieha, 235 
Sarafoff, 62 



INDEX 

Sarajevo, 16, 31, 131, 1*43 

Sazonov, 214 

Scandinavia, 196 

Schulenburg, Count, 235 

Scutari, n, 13 

Selim, Sultan, 36 

Serbia, 10, 11, 14, 15, 39, 58, 59, 63, 

94, 95, 96, 122, 137-44 153, i54i 

164, 170, 171, 180, 181, 182, 185, 

186, 188, 229 
Sering, Prof., 234 
Sforza, Count, 79, 140 
Shaw, G. B., 186 
Shefket Bey Verlazi, 51 
Shkipetars, 47 
Shubachjtch, Dr. Ivan, 15 
Shuvalov, 184 
Siegmaringen, Prince Karl von 

Hohenzollern, 118 
Siguranza, 114, 121, 217 
Sima, Horia, 126 
Simeon, Tsar of Bulgaria, 94 
Simovitch, General Dushan, 5, 6, 

9, 10, 23, 27, 157 
Skanderbeg, 43, 44 
Slovakia, 162, 239 
Slovenia, 13, 16, 130, 132, 135, 136, 

172 

Socialists, Narrow (Bulgaria), 98 
Southeastern Europe, 37, 191 
Soviet Union, 51, 104, 125, 148, 154, 

155, 162, 171, 190, 195, 200-26, 238, 

239 

Spain, 133, 195 
Stalin, 225 
Stamboliski, Alexander, 64, 99, 100, 

102, 122, 146, 219 
Staviskv, 153 
Stoyadinovitch, Milan, 15, 152, 153, 

154, 156, 203, 205 
Stukas, 21 
SVEA,Societ& per lo Sviluppo 

Econondco del* Albania, 48 
Sweden, 228 
Switzerland, 140, 228 
Syrovy, 7 

241 



INDEX 

Tass, 220 

Tatarescu, 123, 124 

Tatars, 92, 109 

Tchernozemski, Vlada, 151 

Teleki, Count, 8 

Tezhak, 167 

Thermopylae, 18, 21, 22 

Thessaly, 237 

Thierfelder, Dr., 26, 205 

Tiltman, H. Hessel, 167, 217 

Times (New York), u, 163, 218 

Titulescu, 195, 2 id 

Toering, 155 

Tomislav, King of Croatia, 231 

Tosks, 47 

Transylvania, 108, no, 125, 172, 

202, 230 

Tripoli, 184, 188 

Tsalakglou, General, 18, 21, 25, 87 
TsankofT, Prof., 100, 102, 206 
Tsars, 33, 58, 74, 95, 117, 118, 139, 

141, 142, 155, 179, 180, 183, 184, 

185, 186-8, 198, 210, 211 
Tsintsars, 32, 47, 92, 130 
Tsouderos, Prime Minister, 26 
Tunisia, 184 
Turkey, 59, 66, 95, 117, 162, 178, 

180, 181, 183, 188, 192, 194, 216, 

220, 223 

Turks, Young, 59, 77 
Tyrol, 191 

Ukraine, 34 

Unity or Death, 143, 146 

Ustashi, 14, 65, 146, 151 

Vaida-Voevod, Dr., 124, 201 
Varnava, Patriarch, 155 
Velimirovitch, 141 
Veltcheff", Colonel, 102, 103 
Venizelos, Eleutherios, 27, 76-81, 

119, 122, i6r 
Verein fur das Deutschtum im 

Ausland, 202 

Versailles Peace Conference, 161 
248 



Vickers, 193 

Victoria, Queen, 182 

Vidvodan Constitution, 148 

Vishinsky, Vice-Commissar of For- 
eign Affairs, 224 

Vittorio Emmanuele, 232 

Vlachs, 34, 47 

"Vlada the Chauffeur;* see Tcher- 
nozemski 

Voelkische Beobachter, 204 

Voivodina, 130, 136, 230 

Voroshilov, 220 

Vreme, 152, 204 

Wallachia, 94, 109, no, 116, 117, 

119, 180, 198, 237 
Weisenhof, 207 
Werner, Max, 225 
White Hand, 39, 144, 150, 152 
Wied, Prince Wilhelm von, 45, 49 
Wiener Bankverein, 6, 15 
Wilhelm, Kaiser, 213 
Wilson, Sir Horace, 201 
Wilson, Woodrow, 79, 148, 161, 

189, 201 

Wittelsbach, Otto von, 75 
Worker's Party of Bulgaria, 98, 101, 

102 
Wrangel, General, 51, 101 

Yankovitch, General, 16 

Yevtitch, 204 

Ypsilanti, Alexander, 72, 73 

Yugoslavia, 3-17, 18, 23, 31, 51, 59, 
66, 92, 129-48, 157, 162, 167, 168, 
169, 171, 189, 192, 193, 194, 203, 
204, 205, 206, 208, 213, 216, 222-6, 
227, 228, 236 

Zadruga, 17" 1-2, 238 

Zagreb, 13, 15 

Zbor, 203 

Zhivkovitch, Pera, 142, 144, 150 

Zog I, King, 49-52, 222 

Zveno, 102 

Zvonimir, King, 231